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Vinoteca, 11th & U Streets NW - Owners Paul Carson and Diego Cerezo's Wine Bar


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Stumbled across this on the Post's site today:

"Raise a Glass to Vinoteca" by Fritz Hahn on voices.washpost.com

A very brief blurb on one of the blogs mentions 68 by-the-glass options, cheese and charcuterie

We were planning on giving Marvin a go tonight and may just have to drop by here first to see what's what.

Edit: click here for a glimpse at their retina-searing website huh.gif . Nothing much substantive yet, just a link to various press pieces.

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They were clearly getting their legs under them for the soft opening (out of some menu items, a shortage of wine menus), but we liked it. I'm no wine geek, so I'll leave that critique to someone else, but I found the selection to be interesting and fairly varied. The division of the wine menu was a bit confiusing; when I see "Old World Reds" and "New World Reds" I expect, well, a division of producers from Europe and the Americas. It didn't seem to follow that logic. Again: me <> wine geek, so maybe I'm missing something. Prices were generally $8-15/glass with a few coming under that a a couple pushing towards $20 and above. All wines are available by the taste, glass, and bottle.

It was pretty busy by the time we left (~ 8:30) and their pouring system might need some more thought. It was pretty tight behind the bar and there is one large temp-controlled wine fridge on the back wall. For each pour the lone 'tender had to open the fridge, retrieve the wine, pour the glass, vacuum seal the bottle (good to see they were doing it for every pour), return to fridge. This included working the service bar. She was doing a great job, though!

Food was good for snacking. One page of cheese and charcuterie, a page of small plates including salads ans some apps, and a small selection of 5-6 entrees. Prices seemed more reasonable than for wine; most expensive entree was a filet for $21 or so. I tried some sliders, choice of 4: lamb, venison, bison, and sirloin. Lamb was a bit dried out, but the venison and bison were great. The rolls were potato rolls and were kind of dried out, though. Would have preferred the ubiquitous brioche.

All in all we got out of there for $75 before tip for a cheese/charcuterie board, 3 slider, and 4 glasses of wine. A tad expensive, but all of our glasses were in the $14-15 range. You could do better. We'll be back to explore more. Judging from the crowds this place has the chance to do well.

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Went here last night. I really liked it. The cured meats and cheeses were very good, the wines were nice sized pours, well-priced, and (I think) well selected (I stuck with Italian reds). Ambience is great, classy without being pretentious, crowd was interesting and not all college students, and the staff was friendly. Really, it was one of the most enjoyable nights out I have had in a while.

I think this will be a new regular spot in my rotation. My only concern is that the tube-top wearing hordes of sorority girls will discover it and it will become too crowded.

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Another post that begins "I wanted to like it, but..."

The service was completely absent, the dining room was freezing (and we were nowhere near the door) and the space, too cramped. Like a previous poster, I was surprised to see a stray wine or two from California show up under New World wines. Also like the previous poster, I am no wine expert so maybe I'm just confused.

Our server, a very nice young woman who tried, disappeared for long, long stretches and was a bit too BFF when she did come around, sitting next to my friend on the banquette. Our four-top, near the front of what I think is the main dining room, was soon climbed over by the large party (6? 7? 8? people) that crammed into the seating area around the table in the window. My friend nearest that table was uncomfortable and frequently elbowed, but there was nowhere for us to move. The bar was packed.

We enjoyed three pieces of cheese ($2 each), but quickly ran out of bread. With no one to serve us more, we helped ourself to the service table in the middle of the room after ten minutes with no employee sightings. We contemplated ordering more food, but decided to head elsewhere lest that process take another two hours. The menu wasn't all that veg-friendly either and one of my two companions is ovo-lacto, no seafood or fish whatsoever.

Although the web site says happy hour takes place Tuesday through Friday nights, we were told that is not the case. Instead HH at Vinoteca is Sun through Thursday. I may go back, but I'm not in any hurry to do so.

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I was there last Thursday for the first time... was told the heat went out on Wednesday; the repair guy no-showed on Thursday. I hope it's fixed by now. Bar was pretty busy about 7pm, but the dining room only had a few tables full... though I imagine the heat problem could have had something to do with that also.

My friend and I each had a glass of wine... wide selection, though to my untrained eye, it didn't seem like much jumped out at me. I had the vinoteca panini - it was a fine ham and cheese sandwich, but nothing special, though I did like the addition of the apples to the sandwich. Came with a small side salad. My friend who's a vegetarian was actually pretty impressed with the selection, but she's used to having very few options. She seemed pleased with the butternut squash soup and house salad. I didn't sample. We didn't have the service problems JLK mentions, but was probably hoping for some more help navigating the wine... an oddity was having the single serving carafes served with the wine, but then not having it poured in the glass for us.

Like JLK, I want to like it, mostly because it's close to home... I'll go again and hope for the heat to be on. On the other hand, Cork will be even closer to home... and I'm looking forward to trying that too.

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Looking at their wine list I am somewhat confussed by the categories. When did Italy become 'New World' and california become ;Old World' and 'new world' at the same time. Eh??? :( And a salad that has Endive, does it become plural if you get more than one leaf of Endive to create Endives and Roquefort salad :(

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Looking at their wine list I am somewhat confussed by the categories. When did Italy become 'New World' and california become ;Old World' and 'new world' at the same time. Eh??? :(

Heh, yeah a friend and I noticed that as well. Forgot to note that to the manager while we chatted him up for awhile.

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Dropped by last night with xcanuck and Mrs. xcanuck and we found it a mixed bag. We ordered some cheese (Red Hawk, manchego, and an ashed goat) & charcuterie (duck prosciutto, speck, and salami) to share, moved on to French onion soup for them and the aforementioned "Endives & roquefort salad" for me, and ended our snacking with two kinds of sliders. The cheese selection were very safe and the charcuterie was tasty; we didn't have a bread problem since I don't eat a lot of bread with cheese, but I did note the three cheeses came with only two slices of bread. The soup looked good, but xcanuck said it was very salty without a lot of onion flavor. The salad was huge, and kind of boring. I was wishing for a little more roquefort, more apples and maybe some walnuts for crunch. The beef and cheddar sliders were juicy, the lamb and goat cheese sliders overcooked and overwhelmed by the cheese. We liked the large bar area, hated the incredibly loud music. All in all, a solid option for a pre-9:30 Club bite, but I probably wouldn't make a special trip to eat there.

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ooh, I was hoping that with another few weeks things would be a little more consistent.

some good: a nice selection of wines by the glass, including some better wines that you don't often see served that way. the cheeses and charcuterie were both really good, although the way they were served was puzzling (three of us, five cheeses, four meats. all crammed on a too-small board served with five little slices of bread). the quiche was outstanding.

arugala salad? bland (hard to mess that one up). the vinoteca salad had way too much vinegar. the dining room was still pretty cold (after reading the above, I assume it would have been remedied by now). the wine list still seems to not quite understand the difference between "new world" and "old world".

and, dare I say this, I would probably not go back just because of the crowd. I am a woman, I often have dinner with female friends. but the demographic was a total turn-off even to me. the volume of the giggling and the sheer gaggle of girls wasn't something I am fond of.

this bums me out, I was really wanting to love it.

I'll watch this space for any things that might change as they are open longer.

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Walked in today 5 minutes before our 12:30 reservation. We were sat promptly, but told that at 1:30 our table would be moved to accomodate a group of eight. Fine. Busboy hands us menus.

12:38: Nothing. No water, no "sorry, be with you in a minute." Where is server? Same busboy serving every table.

12:40: No further signs of life. Diners go in search of their own condiments, coffee, napkins. We ask busboy if our server could come to the table?

12:45: Is that the server darting in and out of the kitchen?

12:50: We leave. Time's more valuable than bottomless mimosas and endless frustration. I wonder if they notice we've gone.

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Walked in today 5 minutes before our 12:30 reservation. We were sat promptly, but told that at 1:30 our table would be moved to accomodate a group of eight. Fine. Busboy hands us menus.

12:38: Nothing. No water, no "sorry, be with you in a minute." Where is server? Same busboy serving every table.

12:40: No further signs of life. Diners go in search of their own condiments, coffee, napkins. We ask busboy if our server could come to the table?

12:45: Is that the server darting in and out of the kitchen?

12:50: We leave. Time's more valuable than bottomless mimosas and endless frustration. I wonder if they notice we've gone.

Previously posted liabilities aside, weekend lunch companions’ conversation and presence should be the focus of attention rather than 20 something minutes from a Swatch on a Sunday when hosts & guests are cranky & crapulous and the weather is pleasant and there are newspaper vignettes to read or bullshit to gossip about with friends. I once heard that this brunch-consumer business demands a leisurely pace, libations and cantaloupe and that criticizing a small neighborhood wine-bar for a congested brunch service during peak hours might be as easy as getting laid at Entre Nous down the street the night before.
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Previously posted liabilities aside, weekend lunch companions' conversation and presence should be the focus of attention rather than 20 something minutes from a Swatch on a Sunday when hosts & guests are cranky & crapulous and the weather is pleasant and there are newspaper vignettes to read or bullshit to gossip about with friends. I once heard that this brunch-consumer business demands a leisurely pace, libations and cantaloupe and that criticizing a small neighborhood wine-bar for a congested brunch service during peak hours might be as easy as getting laid at Entre Nous down the street the night before.
Whoa there, killer. (Did I hit a nerve?) Congested brunch service I can understand. Complete lack of service is something else entirely.

Crapulous, though... nah, was feeling pretty darn good yesterday morning. Even sans cantaloupe.

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Six of us had a lovely dinner at Vinoteca on Sunday night, a place that I hadn't been terribly impressed with a few months back. Though the Redskins victory / Adams Morgan Day festivities are preventing me from recalling the experience with crystalline clarity, a couple things did leap out...

The menu seems to have changed substantially. It's shorter and it offers some pretty creative stuff -- I didn't expect a $6 uni pearls in consomme on the menu. The house-made oversized bowtie pasta was both cute (it really did look like a floppy bowtie) and cream-rich delicious and the not-house-made charcuterie was portioned out generously for $3.50 servings. They also have a nice cheese selection and, of course, a lengthy wine list that I was in no condition to parse.

So... if you're in the neighborhood, and looking a spot to have a glass of wine outside and a snack or two, check it out.

Alex

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Well I went, and it was an utterly disappointing experience. I think our mistake was leaving the bar for a table because at least in part our service was an issue.

The waitress was very friendly and attentive overall, but she wasn't particularly knowledgeable about the wine or the food. I realized that pretty early on and after my first taste, which was an insipid (I don't think I've ever used that word to describe a wine, but it's appropriate here) pinot nero she recommended, that I should just make my own choices. Pretty disappointing given it's a wine bar, but I'm not clueless about wine so fine. What I couldn't stand was when I asked her to remind me of the name of a few of the meats on our charcuterie platter (we got the petit plate) and she told me she didn't know because she was a vegetarian and didn't eat any of it. Well I don't care whether you eat it or not. You work in a restaurant that serves it so you should know what they are - they all look different. She claimed she would send over someone who knew, but that person never appeared. Not surprising, neither did my second taste of wine. Instead, what I got was a full glass of it, about 20 minutes after I ordered the taste and after having to remind her that I ordered it. Her loss, I had planned to have that taste between dishes and then get a glass of something else with my meal, but instead I just had that. It was unfortunate for me as well though as I didn't love the wine and ended up stuck with it. I suppose I could have pointed out her error, but at that point I just didn't care to.

I will say the food itself was good overall. The charcuterie was as tasty as one would expect and the pates were delicious. I had a braised pork belly special for my "entree" and while not the best pork belly I've ever had, it was solidly good. My friend's duck was less exciting, but still okay.

Our bill, for everything I just mentioned (2 small plates, the petit charcuterie platter, and a glass and a half of wine) plus a glass of wine my friend got (he also ordered a taste and got a glass) and a flight of merlot he also got added up to over $120 w/tax and tip. Luckily I had a $50 gift certificate from the City Paper's Good Eats program to lessen the blow, but overall it was NOT worth the money.

OH, and let me add my final, but perhaps biggest complaint. Their pours are 2.5 and 5 oz, not 3 and 6 for a taste/glass respectively. That means that that insipid pinot I referred to was technically $18/glass. That was NOT one of the more expensive wines on the menu. The size of the pours are clearly marked and I knew it going in, but I was actually shocked when I did the calculations afterward and realized what they were essentially charging for a glass of wine.

My companion and I both decided that we would only consider going back during happy hour, and that we would spend our time at the bar.

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i'm certainly not bashful (my ex-boyfriend returned a box of clothing containing a pair of fruity colored panty floss not belonging to me and I hardly batted a lash) but I did blush upon being served the beet and goat cheese salad at Vinoteca a recent friday night.

"Beet" just happens to be a French homonym for the slang for wang, a minor detail that was wasted on my anglophone dining companion. I don't how the chef could actually arrange this plate without a giggle - my barbera went through my nose. I do know that penis props are a source of humor in the kitchen. but I never expected it to seep into the dining room!

no, I don't think I know anyone who works there, but are they trying to tell me something? yes, i'm recently single, thanks for reminding me what i'm missing! now, I just have to fix this TMJ disorder...

3189967690_30397cbf71.jpg

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beet salad update!

so....i went back to vinoteca! the city paper has these $50 coupons you buy for $25. (go to city paper click on Eats) highly recommend these! have some for commonwealth too.

anyway, turns out vinoteca has eyes on the internets and had seen my picture and post and knew all me, and the whole beet fiasco.

so, they offered me a complimentary salad. i requested it "especially huge" and apparently, they had made a 3 plate wide dish, but then recanted and sent me this. Is this the chef making eyes at me?

3231825096_c8a0d637a2.jpg

reminds me of the famous carvel cookie puss! cute. tasty.

3231825060_1737281fb3.jpg

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i'm certainly not bashful (my ex-boyfriend returned a box of clothing containing a pair of fruity colored panty floss not belonging to me and I hardly batted a lash) but I did blush upon being served the beet and goat cheese salad at Vinoteca a recent friday night.

"Beet" just happens to be a French homonym for the slang for wang, a minor detail that was wasted on my anglophone dining companion. I don't how the chef could actually arrange this plate without a giggle - my barbera went through my nose. I do know that penis props are a source of humor in the kitchen. but I never expected it to seep into the dining room!

no, I don't think I know anyone who works there, but are they trying to tell me something? yes, i'm recently single, thanks for reminding me what i'm missing! now, I just have to fix this TMJ disorder...

3189967690_30397cbf71.jpg

That looks more like a "bete" than a "bite" to me.
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Just a quick post to remind folks that Vinoteca has a pretty dang good happy hour, and with the weather turning nicer they have a quite nice patio as well (although I will warn folks that Monday-Wednesday on most weeks DC Bocce plays matches back there, which doesn't mean that the patio is closed, but does mean that there will be a lot of people). Many glasses of wine are $5, they have some number of beer specials, and all of their food on the back patio is discounted. My roast beef and kimchi sandwich last night was delicious.

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I visited for happy hour last night.  I liked their music (including the Strokes, Beatles, Pixies) and $5 happy hour wine.  I didn't eat anything so I normally wouldn't post.  I read this thread before I went, though, and I really just wanted to bump this thread and tell everyone to look at the picture of the beet salad that aurelgrooves posted above.  Too funny!  (aurelgrooves - are you still around?)

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Haha helloo! I am here. Well, alive but not in dc anymore. I live in berlin, germany. Lots of culinary adventures too, the cheaper weirder variety (except for paleo cooking, which is all the rage and not cheap. Seriously, who pays 40€ for a chef hunter/gatherer fare?).

 
Anyway, I also often make the rounds in kinshasa, democratic republic of congo. I can recommend the few restaurants (and what to order) that have the best chances of not giving you the squirts. If you are interested.

 
Cheerio!

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