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SCENE SETTER: BottleRock

SUMMER HOT LIST

The Culver City wine bar's downtown outpost offers a wide array of vintages, plus an ambitious menu.

June 01, 2009|S. IRENE VIRBILIA | RESTAURANT CRITIC

Downtown wine lovers have more reason to drink up with the opening of the 124-seat, 4,000-square-foot BottleRock in the Met Lofts building that already houses John Sedlar's Rivera. An offshoot of the Culver City wine bar of the same name, the downtown L.A. BottleRock features an ambitious menu from Jared Levy, who worked both at Providence and Blue Velvet. Most dishes, though, are well under $15.

Take a seat at the long mosaic glass bar made from recycled wine and beer bottles, where you can watch the action in the kitchen, or else step up to one of the tall chairs arranged around equally tall tables "so that guests are at eye level with their servers, further emphasizing the egalitarian atmosphere," according to the press release. Say what? Only the lounge area offers seating closer to the ground.

The wine list (and retail shop) is all around you -- Burgundies in one section, Spanish and Portuguese in another, Rhone Valley and California over here, which is handy. Instead of poring over the wine list, you can simply let your eyes roam the shelves for a familiar or not-so-familiar label.

You can also get the advice of staffers, who do seem to know their stuff.

Especially beermeister Alex Macy, who put together the affable two-page beer list, which includes a dozen microbrews on tap. He's so into it, he plans to offer beer and cheese tastings soon, which sounds intriguing and somehow sensible. George Skorka, late of Bastide, is the manager and wine director.

The color scheme is juicy lime -- that would be the floor, the chairs and even the host's silk blouse. You get excellent stemware, serious wines at attractive prices and food that can hold its own with the other new restaurants downtown.

Classic charcuterie selections are rounded out with house-made duck rillettes, pork confit and an unusual pig's ear terrine. They've also got La Quercia prosciutto and the artisanal producer's speck (smoked raw-cured ham).

House-cured olives are delicious, but you can also order an array of vegetable antipasti, a sprightly lentil salad dotted with gobo, cherry tomatoes and tofu with dollops of that dreamy duck rillette on top. Fresh fava and pistachio falafel sets a high bar, and affordable smallish main courses (all under $15) include green curry mussels in coconut curry broth, diver scallops with crispy lamb sweetbreads and hearts of palm, lusty roasted bone marrow with bacon vinaigrette and a baguette to soak up the marrow and juices, plus half a roasted young chicken with veggies.

Affordable and fun.

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irene.virbilia@latimes.com

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BottleRock

Where: 1050 S. Flower St. (at 11th Street), L.A.

When: Open 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Sundays to Thursdays and 11 a.m. to 1 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays. Dinner menu available starting at 5 p.m. Beer and wine. Valet parking available on Flower Street between Olympic Boulevard and 11th Street (shared with Rivera)

Price: Snacks, $6; salads, $8 to $12; fish and meat dishes, $11 to $15; pasta and vegetables, $9 to $12; dessert, $9; cheese selections, $9 to $21; charcuterie selections, $11 to $21

Contact: (213) 747-1100; www.bottlerock.net

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latimes.com/hotlist

Summer Hot List

The Guide is now Hot List, your tipsheet for comprehensive listings to SoCal entertainment. Visit Summer Hot List today for our list of overrated and underrated phenomena in pop culture, photos and info on the new BottleRock wine bar, show and event listings, reader reviews and more.

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