Chloe (formerly Voda)
1449 2nd Street (between Broadway and Santa Monica Blvds)
Santa Monica, CA 90401
**UPDATE** Voda has closed and is now Chloe, a lounge with a French-inspired atmosphere that serves small plates. More information at www.barchloe.com.
I want to hate Voda. I really do because Voda is near 3rd Street Promenade, which to me, makes it about as classy as a pair of Dockers khaki shorts, a baby blue pique polo-style, not-Ralph Lauren Polo, polo shirt, hooded sweatshirt tied around the waist, gray argyle socks with walking sandals and a visor that says "Santa Monica" between two palm trees. Everything about the Promenade is tourist.
I want to say that Voda is too small, too dark, too loud, overpriced, and just tries too hard to be a swanky lounge to the point that it’s cheesy.
I want to hate Voda, but I can’t.
How can I hate a bar that is one letter away from my personal poison?!
Vodka, y'all. Voda is a vodka bar and restaurant.
I've gone to Voda before -- several times, in fact, because it was a convenient, local option, and "something different" from the usual Westside haunts to which I would go. However, going there was never my choice. It was always someone else's idea and I just went along for the ride, because as I said, Voda was too close to the Promenade.
Now, with a 2nd Street address, Voda isn't close enough to 3rd Street Promenade. I swear I could go to Voda every day during the cocktail hour to refresh and resuscitate, then walk back to the office to get some real work done in the late evening buzzed on a couple of vodka/sodas. Good Lord. My productivity would be astronomical. We're talking NASA, kids.
I've gone back to Voda a couple of times recently because yes, I work on the Promenade, and my only other options for a Happy Hour are a purple dinosaur, an owl, or Yankee Doodle's. Don't get me wrong. I loooove owls, but that's just for their Buffalo wings. These days, though, I guess I feel a little...Dockers shorts-ish with argyle socks and a Santa Monica visor. :)
I'm not go into too much detail about my most recent visit to Voda because, well, I can't. It was Ladies' Night. That's probably enough for anyone to figure out that I couldn't give details about the evening if I tried. Aside from photographic evidence that I discovered on my camera the next morning that I was there (you think I take pictures for my blog? Think again. It's called "memory."), I have almost no recollection of what unraveled throughout the evening after I sucked down two vodka/rocks within 12 minutes. Classy. I know. Goes with my Dockers shorts.
So I exaggerate. I actually do remember our girls' evening at Voda, though the images in my head of gawking, gossiping, and laughing are hazy, at best. However, I have been there enough times to provide a decent, accurate description of the place. Voda is tiny, dark, loud, and there are candles everywhere that are just begging to be knocked over into a waxy lawsuit by some supremely drunk diva waving her arms for melodramatic effect. That happens, you know. Not that I would know.
The space is divided by a long standing bar that extends from a few feet just inside the door toward the back. One side of the room is the "lounge" area that has cozy booth seating that really isn't appropriate for anyone else but couples; the other side is the "bar" area that has a couple of tables in the front window and the actual bar that runs the rest of the length of the room. The wall behind the bar features shelves lined with vodkas from around the world. It's such a beautiful sight it nearly brings a clear, distilled tear to my eye.
By the time I arrived at Voda, the girls were seated in one of the front window seats and were halfway through their first round of drinks. Not surprisingly, they started girly, with fem-fruity martinis that usually make me gag. Supposedly, the server had conned a couple of them into ordering the Key Lime Martini because they Voda is "known for it." They should be known for such an atrocity. Key Lime is a fucking dessert, not a drink. Oops, sorry. I didn't mean to use that word. I meant to say "fucking pie." I have to admit, though, the tiny individual martini shakers that come to the table with each martini order are pretty damned cute (but not cute enough to make me order one).
Voda's Cocktail menu reads like a fruit salad. I didn't even bother looking at it this time and ordered a vodka on the rocks to 1) catch up with the girls who were already at level 5 and 2) erase the effects of one of "those" days at work. I think I might have finished it while the server was still at the table and ordered another one.
Though "restaurant" is part of Voda's name, I couldn't ever really consider eating a full meal there. To me, Voda is strictly a vodka bar. We simply ordered a few appetizer-type items to keep apace with our rapidly disintegrating sobriety. Surprisingly, the Deep-fried Asparagus were not bad. Fried foods are almost always decent for the very fact that they are deep-fried. However, from a sub-standard kitchen, they can be too heavily battered, gummy, bready, greasy from poorly monitored temperatures, or poorly balanced inside undercooked, outside overcooked. The batter on the asapragus was light, but could still stand up to the crispness of the vegetable. I didn't like the accompanying sauce at all.
I didn't touch the appetizer that looked like a pu pu platter. Not only was I was slightly put off by such a pointless use of a flame to "grill" the foods at the table, but it was shrimp. Unless I am guaranteed that the shrimp will send me into a flavorgasm, I will not risk having to rush to the ER to get a shot. But really now, a mini pu pu platter? I didn't really have to think about insurgent histamines.
By the time we finished up, it was still early. We split up and went our separate ways; it was a school night after all.
Of course, that didn't stop me from skipping down 3rd Street Promenade to Part 2.