Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Not Sharing Tapas @ Vinoteca Brazilian Tapas Wine Bar

I haven't dined in Los Feliz for a while but after enduring a particularly taxing 2hr cross-town commute from Santa Monica to Silverlake during rush hour, Melissa and I were too hungry to drive any further without eating first. Based on a friend's suggestion, we headed to Vinoteca Farfalla in Los Feliz--a Brazilian tapas and wine bar offshoot from Farfalla Trattoria next door which mixes Italian charcuterie platters with South American dishes from other next door neighbor Tropicalia. Although it's probably pretty known and popular on the Eastside, it's unpretentious and intimate enough to still feel like a secret neighbor spot for the rest of us.

Hungry from the daytrip-length drive, we skipped the intimate cocktail tables (not enough room to fit our anticipated large orders) and sat at the bar. The corridor-shaped bar's exposed brick, wood bar counter and chocolate-colored walls felt instantly cozy. With close to 50 by-the-glass wines (almost all priced $12 or less), and many more options by the bottle, Vinoteca's winelist is impresssive. Melissa ordered a glass of Prosecco while I picked the Primitivo Muga off the blackboard purely based on the name (there's a tapa's spot on Abbot Kinney called Primitivo that I really like), luckily, it also happened to one of the bartender's recommendations.

Although the plates are made for sharing, with Melissa being vegetarian and me not able to turn down Brazilian-style meat--and us both starving since the long drive delayed dinner plans--we each ordered appetizers as well as our own individual mains even though the entrees were listed as "for two to share". My white fish and shrimp ceviche in cilantro-lime and corn chips in a super-sized martini glass was a little on the salty side, but strangely addictive enough that I still ate three-quarters of it. Melissa's Insalatina Brasiliana, a heaping appetizer of baby greens, avocado and hearts of palm was so filling, she never made it to her veggie combo main. She had her entire veggie combo entree with black beans, rice, polenta, grilled veggies and plantains boxed up to go.

I, on the other hand, had no problem eating for two and was able to also dig into my Braziribs entree; the braised, boneless shortribs coated in peppery spices came in a mini-skillet over pan-fried polenta and was topped with a wonderfully doughy cheesy-bread ball.

Although stuffed, we could have been swayed if there was a standout dessert, but the ho-hum selection (creme brulee, chocolate cake, tiramisu) didn't leave a sweet enough impression. We decided to skip dessert and order the banana-chocolate bread pudding with caramel-whiskey sauce on the side (as good as it sounds and only $5 for a heaping wedge) from The Kettle by my apt instead (sustenance after our post-dinner drive home from Los Feliz to the South Bay, we figured).

Vinoteca is definitely a good spot for a casually sophisticated dinner, and judging by the clientele, an ideal date spot (everyone besides the two women next to us were a couple). The bill came out to $78 including three glasses of wine; which--bearing in mind we ordered double the food we should have for just the two of us--translates to a pretty affordable dinner for four.

Vinoteca Farfalla
1968 Hillhurst Ave., Los Feliz

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