Vinoteca, So Very Dissapointing

IMG_5904, originally uploaded by Prince of Petworth.

I went to the new wine bar, Vinoteca, located next to Solly’s on 11th and U Street the other night. I am sorry to report that the experience was less than optimal. First off the decor seemed very conflicted. The lights were too bright yet they were trying to display a “classy” feel. Additionally, with a chill wine bar, why do you have ESPN playing over the bar? Don’t get me wrong, I like ESPN at Solly’s but it doesn’t work at a wine bar. Furthermore, the red tiling made the place have a bit of diner feel. On a positive note the server was very friendly despite extraordinarily long waits for the drinks to arrive. In their defense they did comp us a free round after a 20 minute wait for our last drinks. Hopefully these are just new restaurant growing pains but it was not a delightful first experience.

13 Comment

  • wait, did someone just happen to be wearing a PoP shirt? Or was that planned?

  • I am happy to report a decidedly different experience there two nights ago. We sat in the dining room so I was not as distracted by ESPN (although I agree it has no place in a wine bar). The focus here is definitely on the wine. There are many choices that you can get by the taste (4 oz)/ glass (8 oz)/ bottle. The wine menu is divided between old world and new world wines. We stuck with old world reds … the fall weather really dictated our choice here. I was pleasantly surprised a number of good barolos, which have become hard to find in dc. We very much enjoyed their medoc selection. Although not a haut medoc, grand cru – their selection was just as bold and silky as any haut version. We were also pleased with their selection of cheeses, which includes cowgirl creamery RedHawk (mmmmm) and their organic charcuterie (the duck proscuitto was buttery and delicious). Although there are only a few dinner options of salad, soup and entree they seemed solid. The chopped endive and roquefort salad was a little too large and heavy on both main ingredients, we just couldn’t finish it. The vinoteca salad was much better but lacked enough balsamic vinaigrette to balance the peppery arugula and the acidic grapefuit. The squash soup, on the other hand, was divine. It is a thick, spiced puree of squash served hot with a dollop of creme fraiche and some chive popcorn. The only downfall was the texture of the popcorn. Although tasty, the texture of the popcorn kernels felt slightly like a crunch bug in my soup. Still, I can forgive any flaws attributed to popcorn as it is the world’s most perfect food. We were too full to try the entrees but were intrigued by the house-made pumpkin ravioli, which sounded delicious.

    All in all it was a great night. The place has some kinks but I am happy to find a trendy wine bar that feels like a neighborhood establishment. My biggest complaint of the evening had to be the smell of fresh paint fumes – a fleeting problem to be sure.

  • Should I be offended that ESPN is on in the wine bar? Because, really, I’m not. I thought the whole idea behind the proliferation of wine bars in the area was that wine was becoming a more common “everyman” type of drink, and no longer simply in the domain of the stuffy oenophiles. So if the people at Vinoteca want to have Sportscenter on in the background while I’m sipping my 2002 Merlot, so what? Sounds like the wine selection is good and the service is friendly. Those are two major hurdles right there. There’s no shortage of places in DC where I can act all uppity and get my vine on…so if Vinoteca comes off as a bit more pedestrian, that doesn’t strike me as a bad thing. Good on ’em, I say.

  • Prince Of Petworth

    Yes, you should be offended, nay you must be offended…

  • POP. have you checked out Veritas? It’s a little bit further away at 2031 Florida Avenue NW but definitely worth the trip. The place has a cool vibe and no ESPN or TVs for that matter. You can get wine flights and the menu even gives suggestions for accompanying cheeses which can also be bought in “flights.”

  • That’s PoP’s bodyguard wearing his “colors”.

  • Not only is someone just happening to wear a POP t-shirt, but she’s the only person in short sleeves in the entire establishment, it seems. How very coincidental, and well done!
    I think the red tile is odd. That’s all i got to say.

  • I haven’t been inside yet, but I saw it from the outside and I think the tile looks like…bathroom tile.

  • Well, Mr. and Mrs. 14th and You are headed up there this evening, so we’ll see what we think.

  • I stopped by on opening night (not actually realizing it was opening night, since it was a Monday) and I thought the servers were extremely nice, but the whole experience was a bit strange. Since the dining room was full my friend and I sat on barstools in the little cove right be the front. First it took forEVER to get our drinks, which we found out later was because they were out of glasses. Definitely a “first day” kink, but it didn’t seem so absolutely overflowing with people they should literally be out of glasses. It got real weird when we were ready to go, but our server was no where to be found, so we just hung out waiting, but they apparently wanted to set up a band in the cove area, so the manager eventually came by and politely asked us if we wanted a seat in the dining area, which had cleared out. We said actually we were ready to leave if he could just get our bill. He nearly begged us to stay, but finally went off to get our bill…except he never returned. 15 minutes later our waiter appeared and again asked us to move, but we asked again for our bill, he begged us to stay, then never appeared with our bill. This happened AGAIN a few minutes later with some other host, and we got a little tired of being “in the way” but no one seemed to want us to leave.

    It was probably just a weird grand opening day confusion. We didn’t eat, but I’m looking forward to going back at least once more to try out the “make your own” cheese/meat platters and some of those soups.

  • Went there Saturday night and did not have a good experience. Like many others, we waited a very long time for our drinks (over 20 minutes) from a server. It would have been faster just to walk up to the bar and order. And they served red wine in white wine glasses, b/c they were out of red wine glasses. We were in the cove in the front, which was too narrow for the number of chairs they squeezed in so it was a little uncomfortable. After waiting 20 mins for our first drink, our group decided to pack it in there and go for a more low-key & comfortable setting at Sollys. It took another 20 minutes to get and pay the bill, which was frustrating. My wife was there earlier in the week for dinner and had a great experience at a table in the dining room, with good service and excellent food/wine. So from our two trips there, the restaurant experience gets a thumbs up and the bar a big thumbs down.

  • i’m happy to report that, to address your concerns below, vinoteca has since replaced the espn with some more appropriate black and white films (no sound of course)… makes for a great ambiance. from my most recent experience here it also seems that many of the complaints identified below did seem to be opening month “kinks” which appear to be worked out and improved upon. i, for one, absolutely love this place and am happy that dc finally has a spot where i can chill and enjoy a glass of wine without pretention.

  • This place is terrible. It is quite obvious this place was rushed into existence. The construction is sloppy and decor mismatched. I had to wait 25 minutes for my drink, our waitress was less than attentive. We eventually gave up on dining and went to the bar, again, chaos and dissappointment. If management happens to read this, YOU MUST DO A COMPLETE OVER-HAUL–Start new! Otherwise, your freshman effort will fade to black.

    PS- It wouldn’t hurt to hire some African-Americans, you are afterall in a historically black neighborhood.

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