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The Vinotecas - reviewed

They may sound like a Latvian pop band but the cooking and the wine are serioso says Drew Smith

Written by . Published on September 18th 2012.

The Vinotecas - reviewed

There are now three Vinotecas which makes them sound like a Latvian girl band. (Let’s all do the vinoteca, yeah, yeah, vino-vino, teca-teca-teca). The usual short hand translates as wine bar but that is inedaquate.

On one side they are a wine merchant with a carefully selected and enterprising list – I cannot vouch for all of it (as yet) but the Portuguese section is very strong – and they have kitchens which produce food that would not be out of place in more self important dining rooms.

VinotecaVinotecaThe format is similar to the Terroir/Brawn/Soif operations –  who are opening a fourth outlet  in St Martins Lane this week or so – except beyond little plates there are proper main courses offering wild saddle of rabbit, chicory, roast shallots and mustard with a suggestion of a 10 year old Cahors to go with it or lamb chop, potato gratin, beans and anchovy with a suggested Chianti to match.

Smithfield – or they call it Farringdon – is always a bit of a scrum but the Seymour Place outlet is in the hinterland behind Marble Arch, what you might, if you were an estate agent call west Marylebone, bordering little Beirut down Edgware Road, but it is trying hard to be a genteel, neighbourhood a la Paris with the boutique perfumers les Senteurs opposite as is the rather more serious tapas would-be Catalan outlet Donasta. Like many parts of central London these days, the question is whether this is actually a neighbourhood at all or are all those flats in antique blocks inhabited or just invested?

VinotecaduckVinoteca - the duck hearts salad

The menus are brave so you get some chewy, well bouncy, duck hearts, radishes and watercress redeemed by a soupy, winey sauce but it not often you see either cooked radish or even hearts at all. You drizzle the warm watercress strands through the sauce to effect.

VinotecasaladVinoteca - the girly salad

The salad could have been out of an Alkaline diet book – fennel, cucumber grapefruit, orange and figs. Mussels instead of being predictably mariniere or with cream came with bacon, white wine and a persillade, nice twist.

VinotechaterrineVinotecha - a proper terrine

In the more wine bar mode there was an excellent terrine of middlewhite served with toast and cornichons or you could opt for the plate of charcuterie or four English cheeses which include this year’s buzz blue Stichelton.

We drank some really excellent, sweet Moscatel de Setubal which accounted for most of the £70 bill for three of us. Good places. Well run.

On Mondays at the moment you can take along an empty (washed) wine bottle and they will only charge you shop prices, otherwise it is a relatively modest 100% mark-up

Service         3
Atmosphere    3
Cooking        7
Total        13

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