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7 St John Street
020 7253 8786
‘Quick and easy, unfussy and unpretentious’, gregarious Vinoteca’s winning formula matches the oenophile virtues of a top-notch wine emporium with a penchant for smart brasserie cooking. Wine flights and by-the-glass selections are unmissable, and the full list of around 250 bins is stuffed with helpfully annotated bottles from every corner of the winemaking globe – although judicious food-matching suggestions are the mini-chain’s ’biggest USP’. British cheeses and European charcuterie are mainstays of the menu, but the regularly changing line-up runs from crispy confit duck, pear, orange and walnut salad (recommended with a glass of Weissburgunder 2011) to Cornish hake with cockles, arroncina beans, lemon and samphire – perfect with a Kumeu River Chardonnay 2007 on the side. Light airy interiors, funky lighting and retro posters create just the right mood, and the bill is always easy on the wallet.
For 21 years, StreetSmart has raised money for homeless people by adding £1 per table to diner’s bills at participating restaurants nationwide throughout November and December.
Since its conception, the StreetSmart campaign has raised £8.8 million, supported by over 500 participating restaurants, such as Meatliquor, St John, The River Café, Polpo, The Providores and Barrafina.
Explore our selection of participating restaurants in London..
It’s a perennial problem: you want to choose your wines by style, but your dining companion wants to peruse the list by country of origin. What do you do? Well, this list will keep both parties happy. The wines are split up in both ways (the former with full, helpful tasting notes), and with a wide spread of wines there should be something for everyone, however they choose to find it! And the tasting note ‘Yes. Lambrusco. And it’s bloody lovely.’ should win an award.
Best Farringdon Bars
Best Wine by the Glass
Best Private Rooms: >30
StreetSmart - London restaurants
7 St John Street
020 7253 8786
Farringdon Station 177m
Farringdon Tube Station 200m
Worshipful Company of Haberdashers 196m
Food & Drink:
Rate & Review
Food + drink: 5
I had the set lunch menu with my colleague and as usual Vinoteca didn't fail to produce excellent quality food - but what was even better this time was a at such a good price. It is now my chosen lunch time venue for dining out with colleagues and contacts.
Food + drink: 3
The name Vinoteca perhaps says it all: this place is about wine. It is hard to fault the success of the group, with it mini-empire now spanning five branches as well as an online wine shop. However, a recent lunchtime visit to its Farringdon outpost suggested that the food remains very much an after-thought. We arrived at 12.30 to a deserted restaurant – never a great sign – although the place did gradually fill up. Curiously, despite being the only guests, our somewhat supercilious server only allowed us to choose our seating from a small segment of tables rather than across the whole restaurant – another black mark. The menu itself is centred around modern European dishes and is priced fairly, at around £7-8 for starters and £15 for mains. I couldn’t help feeling though that Vinoteca was trying to achieve the impossible, offering interesting and original dishes at compelling prices. Despite being a relatively seasoned restaurant-goer, a brief run-through of the menu revealed several ingredients I had never heard of (puntarelle, purslane) and also some overly-engineered combinations. From concept to reality, this thesis was borne out. I began with the Devon crab, quinoa, courgette, mint and chilli. It sounded conceptually enticing, but comprised predominantly quinoa with a tangible absence of chilli. By the end of the dish, I simply found it tiresome and a little too worthy. Similarly, with regard to the main, my salmon fillet was almost obliterated by its braised gem lettuce accompaniment. There was no evidence of the promised ‘datterini’ tomatoes and I was still none the wiser as to what – if anything – the purslane added to the dish. My dining comrade expressed similar bewilderment over his options. At least the wines pleased. Vinoteca has a genuinely interesting and original list and we particularly enjoyed the Italian Kerner, wonderfully crisp with some lovely mandarin and lime undertones. My advice: if in the area, come here for wine, but there are many better dining options in nearby Smithfield. If you want wine and food together in a (relative) value-based convivial setting, then consider 28:50 instead.
Food + drink: 4
If you have a bar that does not accept bookings, why would it be OK to allow somebody to book? Either decide that you can or decide that you cannot book. Frankly, I don’t care. What annoys me is to have one policy, then espouse another when we turn up.
“I’m sorry but we’re booked out” means nothing to me when you have a no booking policy. It is worse still when you seat two tables before me when I have been waiting, on a first come first serve policy. IT IS EVEN WORSE WHEN THE WINE IS SO GOOD.
Yes, forget the absurd seating policy, just love the wine. Vinoteca may have a schizophrenic approach to seating, but the wine list (with over 300 to choose from) is simply excellent. Well thought through, long and interesting, and the majority in the £20-£40 price range, with a few falling below that, which is no mean feat in this part of the world
The place is too cramped and crowded to make it my favourite City wine bar; only once have I managed to get a decent table and spend any quality time drinking down the wine list, and that was a mid-week afternoon after a “client” lunch.
So not the best wine bar in the City (see 28-50 or Planet of the Grapes for that), but definitely one worth finding.
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