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SquareMeal Review of Vinoteca Farringdon

‘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.

Good to know about Vinoteca Farringdon

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Buzzy
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Location for Vinoteca Farringdon

7 St John Street, London, EC1M 4AA

020 7253 8786

Website

Opening Times of Vinoteca Farringdon

Mon-Sat 12N-11pm

Reviews of Vinoteca Farringdon

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15 Reviews
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Anon

Consistently excellent quality food and drink
09 November 2016
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.
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Mr. Alex G

More about the wine than the food
19 March 2015
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.
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Mr. Richard E

15 December 2011
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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Mr. Jon S

09 June 2010
Vinoteca is the best place to drink wine around. They always have such fantastic wines, at fantastic prices, and are so helpful at helping you pick the correct one for you. They also have wonderful plate of Spanish hams which go down a treat with the wine. A real gem this place.
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Mr. Mike N

18 April 2010
I went to Vinoteca last night, largely as a result of the reviews on this site. I have to say that I was more than impressed. We had an incredible duck crepe roll which I'm still salivating over, quite the most delicious thing I've tasted for years, followed a delicious Hake and Ham combination that I couldn't quite believe I was eating. All this was washed down with the wines recommended for each course, which they helpfully make sure come by the glass. It felt like we were eating Michelin star food in a local winery environment, a little bit of tuscany maybe in Faringdon. Highly recommended. Service, as others have commented, was definitely pressured, but reasonable for the location and completely offset by the excellent food and wine. PS. I was largely prompted to write this review due to another penned by a “Claire J.” – that review is so unfair it's almost as if it's a vendetta…I suggest you take it with a large pinch of Vinoteca salt.
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Mr. Hadyn W

22 March 2010
Though the food here is excellent, this is not why I go here. Yes, it is the wine collection. It is superb. The service is very good, and very willing to help you pick the right wine for you. If you love good wine then it is absolutely impossible not to enjoy an evening here.
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Ms/Mrs. Claire J

01 March 2010
This was my second visit to Vinoteca – I wouldn't have chosen to go again but it was for a birthday so there was no choice. I decided to stay optimistic – the party of 6 arrived early (ie.5.30pm) in order to secure a table (this was Friday evening on 26 Feb 2010) as you cannot book(!) We ended up in a corner, unfortunately it was more a table for 4 people and the seating was very cramped. 5 of the party had wine but I wanted a beer which took a long time to arrive. The waitress service was very unfriendly and snooty – very much like my visit last summer. I chose the duck terrine for my starter but it was actually a case of pieces of duck squeezed together and I had a horrid fatty lumpy bit I had to spit out (without anyone noticing fortunately). There was a bit of toast and a bit of watercress which you can't really go wrong with! I had expected something nearer to a paté texture and was extremely disappointed with what I got. Someone has ordered the squid and chorizo starter but it was very chewy and crunchy and there was no chorizo! There was a mix of jalapeno peppers and a few olives.. very odd combination – I was told it was tasteless. My main course was the Black leg of Chicken which comprised of a leg and two mini-breasts with chopped up celeriac and a few mini sized potatoes and half an onion. The chicken leg was so fatty I couldn't even get any chicken off it – I've never had a chicken leg like it.. ! Fortunately there was some meat on the mini breasts – the skin wasn't crispy either ! The celeriac was hard and crunchy and quite disgusting. I asked one of my fellow diners if that was how it was supposed to be and was told most certainly it wasn't. My fellow diners had steak for their main and in summary the word ‘chewy’ was mentioned a few times. Usually I am one to complain but I didn't want to ruin the party as it was a birthday so I kept quiet. There is one light at the end of the tunnel.. dessert.. ! Yes I am pleased to say they got the dessert right.. !! Ta da… !! I had the brownie in sauce with chocolate brownie ice-cream which was yum. Overall it was very expensive – I paid £45 for my meal and drinks and didn't think it was worth the money. This was my second visit and on both occasions I have found the service to be very unhelpful, the seating cramped and the food not great. When any of us asked for something slightly different from the menu or to mix and match an item or have one extra scoop of ice-cream it was a look of disdain and unhelpfulness. They may have 100s of choices of wines but there was only one choice of beer which wasn't great. If you have to go my advice is skip the starters and main courses and go for two desserts.. !!
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Mr. Gary R

08 November 2009
Wonderful little place. The wine selection is fantastic, and they do some lovely food too. And for what you get, this is probably the best place in London to take a few wines, or a box, home with you. The prices are more than reasonable, and their is no such thing as a bad wine here. An absolute must for vinophiles.
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Mr. Mark D

13 October 2009
Vinoteca has a slightly raffish charm fostered by knockabout wooden tables and blackboards scrawled with the names of the current vins du jour. This sets the tone for a relaxed and informal occasion. But don’t be fooled into thinking the food is anything but informed. Vinoteca’s kitchen is certainly on good form at the moment, with an emphasis on full throttle flavour rather than fancy presentation. Char-grilled squid, chilli and mint gremolata delivers delicious respectful flacour with just the righ amount of pep with tomatoes adding a pleasant herbaceous character. Lamb, olive and aubergine ragu with terrific parmesan gnocchi and oregano was yielding and rich and completely moreish. A paradigm of the modern wine bar.
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Mr. Peter B

13 October 2009
Outstanding. I have been coming to Vinoteca for almost 2 years and it is quality every time. The question I always ask myself is why fu&* around with other joints when you have service / food and wine all in one? Tonight I had the mackerel which I had not seen on the menu before. It was perfectly cooked and the size of it was ticketyboo. The bread as usual is a stand out and these guys just get IT. Go there, hang there and be a part of the best wine bar London.
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