Bands call it a “difficult second album”, but there is no such problem for the people behind Vinoteca with the opening of their second restaurant in Marylebone. I have been a long time admirer and frequent diner at the original Vinoteca in Farringdon so I was a little bit scared that the new restaurant would not live up to my high expectations. I need not have worried as the new Vinoteca is a cracker of a restaurant, every bit as good as its sister establishment.
Fennel, ricotta and mint salad
Vinoteca Marylebone works on the same no bookings at dinner policy as the original Vinoteca but is quite a bit bigger enabling us to snag a table for eight easily at 7pm on a Saturday night. A word of warning though, by 8pm the place was rammed – so time your run wisely! Inside there are simple wooden bistro tables and chairs, lime green leather banquettes, a wall of wine bottles available to take away and inviting lighting. Filled with people, the restaurant fairly hums with a fun, vibrant atmosphere. The waiting staff also come straight from the bonhomie boot camp with smiles all round and helpful, knowledgeable recommendations about the food and wine.
Epigrams of lamb
The menu changes on a daily basis but features a few old favourites from the original Vinoteca on regular rotation. However the bigger restaurant means there is also a bigger kitchen with room for the chefs to put some more space and labour intensive dishes on the menu like glorious slow cooked pies. To begin fennel, ricotta and mint salad (£5.75) is refreshingly simple although not something you would want to eat prior to a hot date thanks to the prominence of thinly sliced raw onion. Epigrams of lamb (£5.95) are thin, breaded cutlets of lamb teamed with a sauce gribiche with a nice kick to it.
The bavette steak
The bavette steak (£14.50) is fantastically flavoursome, cooked to a perfect state of medium rare and served with crunchy chips that are so fat they are almost deep fried whole potatoes. The slow roast shoulder of lamb (£14.95) is perfect winter comfort food. The meat is tender but topped with a crunchy mustard and parsley crust to add texture and served with kale and roasted vegetables.
Slow roast shoulder of lamb
The kitchen provides good reason to linger in the form of a smart little dessert list. On a wintery evening it is hard to go past the sticky toffee pudding which is moist and springy with lashings of toffee sauce and a scoop of ginger ice-cream. Every dish was expertly matched with a fantastic wine by our friendly waiter right up to an appropriate dessert wine to finish the night off. Our favourite for the night was probably the light and zippy 2008 Muscadet Sèvre et Maine Sur Lie from the Loire valley in France.
Everything was nigh on perfect and our stonking meal encapsulates why the new Vinoteca hits the jugular. I can’t wait to go back.
Sticky toffee pudding
Details: Vinoteca, 15 Seymour place, Marylebone W1H 5BD (Ph 020 7724 7288)
Damage: Reasonable. Our meal came to £50 a head but that was with a lot of wine.