Last night we ended up at Bottle Rock in Culver City.
The concept is quite impressive... you can choose any glass or flights of wine on the list (which changes on a weekly basis) or you can choose to try ANY of their *unopened* BOTTLES. For the unopened bottles you must commit to trying two glasses, and they price it at 1/3 the bottle price. What happens to the rest of the bottle? Well, it goes up on a "specials" chalk board, where they price it to sell by the glass.
What is even more impressive about this place is the expansive variety. I mean seriously... I have never seen a wine bar with this amount of stuff to try... and I don't even have to buy the whole bottle either! Amazing. The prices are also very reasonable too!
The food was pretty good to boot as well... we ordered the charcuterie and salumi plate. Though I have had better, both were delicious, albeit a bit pricey for what you get. Then again, you don't come here and focus on the food... this place is ALL ABOUT THE WINE.
What really made me fall in love with this place is the service... super down to earth people who are just cool... no snootiness AT ALL. No pretense anywhere. Not your typical wine snob place. Just about everyone came by our table and asked us how we were enjoying our wine and food.
This is a great place for anyone... from the "I drink cheap wine" all the way to those who are familiar with Screaming Eagle, Bryant Family, and other cult wines. I must say that there were more than several people there that REALLY KNEW wine... inside and out. Tell them what you're looking for, your price range, and VOILA! Again, AMAZING.
One thing I didn't like was the difference in pours you get with different people. The pours we got were rather stingy compared to the patron who had a different server. I must say that their pours were almost TWICE what we got... which made me a little bit mad. Ok... back to the rave...
OH... and this place is fun too! The atmosphere is more like a laid back wine party, rather than a fancy schmancy, intimidating snob fest. There was rock music playing in the background. The place was packed and hopping at around 8 or so... be prepared to wait if you get there later. However, I HIGHLY suggest you wait... it will be worth it!
This place is now one of my favorites!!!
After our escapade at Bottle Rock, we decided to just look at what Vinum Populi had to offer. Not bad... they had a great selection of Italian wines but, the fun component was missing, as well as the service. Didn't try the food there either... planning on going back and trying Vinum Populi for happy hour someday... that is if we are able to fight the pull to Bottle Rock :P
From the looks of it, Bottle Rock takes the prize over Vinum Populi.