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November 12th, 2010

VINOTECA (Clerkenwell)

Category: Bistro (££)green traffic5 150x150 VINOTECA (Clerkenwell)

Once in a while you come across a place you don’t really want to write up and Vinoteca is one of them. Why? Because it is a little gem and it’s already difficult enough to get a table with their no booking policy. But I wouldn’t have found it if it hadn’t popped up in several ‘my favourite London restaurants‘ lists of trusted food bloggers (Gourmet Chick, Londonelicious ) and I shall now also be a good and altruistic person for a change and share it with you too.

Vinoteca, as the name promises, is a wine bar with an extensive and well-priced wine list. You can also buy wines to take with you for shop prices. If you want to eat there, be prepared to wait as there are only about 10 tables. But there are more unpleasant things than having a glass of wine and some olives and looking forward to the pleasures ahead of you. Because let me tell you, the food at Vinoteca is well worth the wait.

 VINOTECA (Clerkenwell)

I started with Scallop Ceviche with Pickled Radish and Samphire (6.50). The only criticism here was that I found the samphire slightly too overpowering for the mild taste of the delicious scallop, but this might have to do with the fact that I have not made up my mind quite yet if I actually like samphire or not.
 VINOTECA (Clerkenwell)

My dear friend Naomi always shares here food with me (bless her) so I got half or her Five Bird Terrine with Red Wine Prunes and Toast (6.95). I have no idea what bird species would be in a five bird terrine, seems an awful lot of birds. Having said that, it was an absolutely wonderful dish, perfectly fitted to the sudden arrival of the autumn/winter. The fresh bread still warm and crunchy, the prunes sweet and the delicate game taste of the terrine a pleasure, all together perfectly fitting with the red wine we were drinking.
 VINOTECA (Clerkenwell)

I don’t eat red meat very often, but this evening I really felt l like a good steak. The waiter told me that the Char-grilled bavette, chorizo butter chips & smoked ketchup (14.50) is the only dish on the menu that they don’t change, and after i have sampled it I am not surprised. It was pure bliss. The meat full of flavour and perfectly medium rare, the chorizo butter heavenly (and I don’t even like chorizo), the potaotes crispy and light and the smoked ketchup! Who would have thought that ketchup could taste so delicious?!
 VINOTECA (Clerkenwell)

I was so immersed in my own main course that I have to rely on my friends’ verdict regarding the other two entrees: Naomi loved the rare venison haunch, swede cake, butternut squash & game sauce (14.50). It was the first time that I saw her eating swede. Vinoteca seems to be a place to try things that you usually don’t like, as they appear to taste good there!
 VINOTECA (Clerkenwell)

Myriam could not compliment the combination of  Blackened Cod with mustard sauce and belle pepper compote (14.50) enough.
 VINOTECA (Clerkenwell)

We should have had enough food by then and we were pretty full indeed, but then we saw Ginger bread cheese cake and ginger ice cream (5.50) on the menu. I mean, no way one could resist a temptation like this! It was one of these desserts that stick in your memory. The mouth-watering cheesecake was Christmas packed in a dessert and would have probably been to sweet on its own, but together with the sharp and zesty ginger ice cream it was just perfect. I mean PERFECT. I paired it with the recommended sweet wine while Naomi and Myriam went for the heavy stuff in the form of cider brandy.
 VINOTECA (Clerkenwell)

This was a hugely successful meal and if you have an evening where you are easy going and don’t mind waiting a bit, go to Vinoteca. The atmosphere is lovely and relaxed, you feel welcome, you get tap water with ice without even asking for it,  it’s great value for money and you will leave a couple of pounds heavier but happy. That’s what good food is all about.

  • Food: 9/10
  • Service: 7.5/10
  • Atmosphere: 7/10
  • Value for money: 8/10
  • Chances of returning: 100%
  • Verdict: this is my new favourite restaurant and be very happy that I share it with you!

biglink VINOTECA (Clerkenwell)

8 comments to VINOTECA (Clerkenwell)

  • I TOTALLY agree! I LOVED Vinoteca – the kind of place I could go back to again and again and again. Great atmosphere, lovely waiters and I totally didnt mind having a bottle of wine with a friend while waiting for the table, made for a lovely merry night actually. Agree the bavette is amazing.

    Possibly/probably my favourite resto in London. Lovely photos and review! x

  • Ute

    Thanks Sasha, I think we have a place for our next girls’ date :) Can’t wait to go back. but first Dishoom, which hopefully will be nice too! x

  • Ute, you got me at the ‘smoked ketchup’ part. I think that alone is worth the visit. Have been going around hunting for a good cheesecake. Seems like I need look no further. Cheers!

  • Ute

    I agree, it’s worth for the ketchup alone! Regarding your best cheesecake hunt – you should also try the cheesecake at Jak’s in Chelsea if you are in the area, that’s seriously delicious too.

  • barbaramaria

    Kannst ja schon reservieren:)))

  • Firstly, just wanted to comment how nice the new look and feel is!

    Whilst I hate their no booking policy, I really appreciate how they try and find you a space at the bar to wait and actually look after you whilst you are waiting…

    Love the place!

  • Ute

    Thanks, I’m glad you like it :)
    and I agree with you, the waiting is a pain really. But it might be good for the atmosphere overall.. no empty tables and only people there who really WANT to be there… (I would still prefer to be able to book though…)

  • [...] have to start by saying that I absolutely love the original Vinoteca in Farringdon (you can read my laudatory review here), so I was more than intrigued when its sister restaurant opened on Seymour Place in Marylebone [...]

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