Looking for a delicious global dining experience right on Melrose Avenue? For eight years, the charming tapas and wine restaurant Vinoteque has served a seasonally driven tapas menu that offers just that.
According to restaurant manager Kelly McCauliffe, the menu evolves every few months to match both what is in season and what inspires the chef.
“We just launched our summer menu last week with a farm-style grilled romaine salad with buttermilk dressing, a sweet corn and scallop risotto, and summer fruit oatmeal crisp among the new offerings,” McCauliffe notes.
Of course house favorites remain on the menu year ‘round, including Vinoteque’s renowned four cheese tortellini, succulent sliders, and goat cheese Napoleon.
Head chef Sheila Gomez creates a concept based on the tapas restaurants in Italy and Spain. While there are plenty of savory dishes, Gomez started her career as a pastry chef, and the menu includes specialities such as churros with house-made dipping sauces and a molten chocolate cake.
From the food served to the relaxing vibe, Vinoteque is a great spot for a leisurely meal.
“We’ve created that European sense of comfort and ease in the middle of this crazy city. The patio is supposed to be an oasis off Melrose, while still a vital part of the Melrose vibe and community,” McCauliffe explains. “Our experience is all about enjoying great food, great wine and great company.”
While the restaurant eschews a bar scene, that doesn’t mean diners won’t enjoy a wonderful glass of wine with their meal. In fact, one of the restaurants biggest draws, according to McCauliffe, is its wine list. Restaurant co-owner Ryan Hess is sommelier, as well as a professor of viticulture for UC Davis, and an oenologist.
“He essentially builds a new wine list every week, composed of small batch vineyards, esoteric varietals, and all-in-all interesting wines that can’t be found anywhere else,” McAuliffe states. “Our guests always know they have something new to look forward to when they get here.”
Vinoteque prides itself on making wine accessible, with the goal of introducing guests to something new, whether it’s about the wine itself or their palate.
With so much of the focus on the fruit of the vine, every staff member is something of an oenophile, and they all have their favorites. “Right now we all seem to be obsessed with Spanish wines: verdejo, tempranillo. And being summer, rosé is all the rage, too,” McCauliffe says. “But as we say, a bottle of wine is only as good as the people you share it with.”
Another delicious option is the restaurant’s sangria, popular all year ‘round. The preparation is a house secret, and the flavor changes weekly, based on seasonal produce.
“All you have to know is that it’s tasty, and can sneak up on you – and it’s made fresh every Sunday,” McCauliffe asserts.
Great food and wine and perfect al fresco dining – what else does Vinoteque offer? The free Love Locks program, inspired by a traditional European story about two lovers who take a lock to the oldest bridge crossing Rome’s Tiber River, secure it to a lamp post, and toss the key into the river, symbolizing their eternal love. Vinoteque treats diners to a complimentary lock that is hung on a chain strung along one wall.
“We want the locks to be a symbol for diners, and a reminder of the care and love Vinoteque has for its customers. Once they hang the lock, the keys are placed in a special bottle, and two or three times a year, we take them to Rome, and throw the keys in the Tiber,” McCauliffe relates. “We say your love is now locked on two continents.”
Certainly Vinoteque’s tapas, desserts, and wine gets Melrose Ave. diners locked up indeed – to a delightful dining experience.