I probably wouldn't have ever considered going to lunch at Vino if not for a plan to meet a friend who works in the area at a place that was unexpectedly closed. He recommended that we come here instead.
This is one of these wine tasting places, where you taste wines and can buy a bottle to take home with you if you find something you like. All of the wines are in tasting machines, and all wine is priced by the ounce. You get get 1, 3 or 6 oz glasses; some of the wine is very pricey, like $10 an once. Some are under $2. But you don't come here to taste cheap wine. You have to pay $5 for a card and then you fund it to use in the machines; I've previously expressed my distaste for places that make you buy a card to buy a product from them. The issue of course is that if you just want to try the place once you're stuck with a card and it costs you $5 more that it should. Imagine if a hotel made you buy an access card for your room; or if you had to pay for your silverware to buy a meal. It's just a money-grab; they can easily lend you a card and just ring up what you use on your credit card when you leave.
Physically this is a handsome place; just a bar really, with built-in cabinets throughout the space. You can see the bare brick above the cabinets, and if you go the bathroom you can tell that they dressed up what was likely a pretty dingy space previously. It has the feel of a pretty high end bar.
Vino Hollywood Interior
For lunch we weren't having any wine, so we just got some Pellegrino and grabbed a table. There were just a few tables occupied; there's only a handful of tables in the place. The menu had a few good things on it; a hanger steak, chicken parm; and then I noticed the Eggplant Parmesan, and I knew what I wanted. My friend ordered an italian panini with mozzarella and a salad.
The place is very quiet; no booming music or even quiet music; there's a couple of TVs at the bar showing the news without sound. There's no hostess or servers; just a middle-aged guy doing everything himself except the cooking.
There's no bread or crudites, or salt or pepper. It doesn't feel much like a restaurant. Finally the food is served.
Vino Hollywood Eggplant Parmesan
It was a pretty good-sized portion of eggplant, lightly battered (not breaded) with a thin layer of fresh tomato sauce and covered with mozzarella. It was one of the better versions I've had in quite a while. Whoever made this knows how to cook. It would have been nice to have some bread or a little pasta with it, but overall I was pretty satisfied with the portion for the $14 price.
Vino Hollywood Panini
My friend said he liked the sandwich ($12); he also recommended another menu item that he'd had previously; the gnocchi. Judging from the eggplant, I'd have to say I'd be willing to try it.
I usually don't do coffee or espresso, but my friend is European, so we ordered a couple of espressos.
Vino Hollywood Espresso
Good espresso ($2.95). A nice ending to a pretty good lunch.