|Hanging exposed bulb chandelier at Vintage Enoteca|
The word "enoteca" is an Italian word originally derived from the Greek words Οινο θήκη, meaning "wine box". A fun fact being that I am Greek and I love to drink wine. These lovely little enoteche (yes, that's the plural form) can be found all over Italy as a place for visitors to try out reasonably priced wines with the opportunity to buy if they so wish. As enoteche gained in popularity they began popping up in Germany, Austria and luckily now here in the U.S. This is not to be confused with the word "inoteca", which foodies would describe as a restaurant serving small plates. However, what I pleasantly found at Vintage Enoteca was a little of both.
|Spanish hard cider|
This small, New York-style wine bar sits on Sunset Blvd. away from the posh Sunset Strip but still on a block where all things feel hip. The generous amount of street parking and the large parking lot out back make it all the more reason for you to step inside this simple yet cozy enoteca. But an even better reason is their 5-7pm Happy Hour. During this time all food on their menu is half-off. Yes, half-off. It's a great opportunity to taste a number of items on their menu and pair them with their extensive wine list priced from $8 - $14/glass. As odd as this might sound, I opted to try a little something out of the ordinary -- a Spanish cider from their list. While it was a little disappointing to see a Beer & Cider heading and only offer one cider (the rest international and domestic ales), I threw caution to the wind and took the suggestion of my server -- the Isastegi Sargardo from Basque Country, Spain. As it was uncorked and poured into a short wine glass, I knew I was in a for a treat. Although made from apples, this cider had a subtle malt flavor to it that tamed the sometimes overwhelming sweetness usual hard ciders may have. Armed with this delicious libation, I hit the menu running.
First up were the Medjool Dates. As mentioned in my previous review of NINE ELM, I love stuffed dates. I can't get enough of them. If I could stuff myself into a date I would. And I'd wrap a piece a bacon around me for warmth. So of course, I ordered them. At first bite I found the speck (Italian ham) wrapped around them to be quite nice and flavorful but when I hit the grana padano (italian cheese) I wasn't overall pleased with the texture. Grana Padano is known to be a "hard cheese" and it was so hard that my dinner companion and I literally removed the small pieces of it from the dates because it was too difficult to chew. It's a shame because the soft date and incredibly tender speck would have been in better company with something softer. However, I did appreciate the attempt in giving the dates a more refreshing take.
on to one more item. I couldn't resist. And the Pumpkin Risotto was screaming my name. It arrived in a large bowl and was topped with a lovely piece of bacon. While I found it a little funny that the chef topped pumpkin risotto with bacon, I didn't necessarily mind it. My dining companion and I dug into this heaping bowl and both agreed that while it had a nice heartiness to it, it was missing flavor -- particularly the pumpkin. It gave off more of a mac and cheese vibe with a hint of sage and a smoky bacon fixin. Granted, at the discounted price of $5 a bowl (from the original $10 pasta selections), it sufficed as the comfort food I was hankering for.
After paying our extremely reasonable $30 bill, I stepped out of this small wine bar stuffed. I smiled. I like enoteche. And I will certainly be back to visit this little vintage one between Fairfax and Labrea.
For menu and reservations visit: VINTAGE ENOTECA