I’m often caught saying I’d like to spend more time in London’s plethora of alluring wine bars. So, when I was invited to Vinoteca Soho last Sunday, I accepted faster than you could say pinot.
I arrived two minutes before my wining (is that a word?) companion did, leaving me with the almost overwhelming decision of choosing the table. Fortunately Vinoteca was busy but not packed – significantly aiding my decision. I opted for a small low table near the bar.
As soon as my friend arrived, things got serious: which wine do we order? After a bit of umm-ing and ahh-ing, we decided against ordering a bottle as we wanted to try a selection of different wines. I opted for the 2006 Kanta Riesling from Australia (yes, Australia!). It offered the characteristic perfumed aromas of a somewhat aged Riesling – just a touch of petrol nestled among a burst of tropical fruit. On the palate, it had a pleasing amount of acidity supported by a great deal of tropical and citrus fruit flavours. Riesling can be extremely varied in its level of sugar – ranging from bone dry to lusciously sweet – but this Australian expression of the grape was absolutely bone dry. My friend opted for an oaky Savoie white (a classic wine from the French Alps) followed by a white from Peleponnesus, Greece.
The aromas from the neighbouring table prompted us to order something to eat – even though I wasn’t particularly hungry. Maybe I’m just greedy. In addition to bread (which unfortunately tasted slightly chewy and stale) and olive oil, we opted for two plates of cured meat from Spain. I think we can all conclude that my eyes are bigger than my stomach (anyone else have that problem?). We opted for a plate of the cabezada (cured slices of pork lightly seasoned with spices) and morcilla (cured meat with black pudding). The former was delicious but a little fatty for my taste; in spite of my initial apprehension I particularly enjoyed the latter dish. And, oh my, what generous portions!
It is no surprise to me that Vinoteca branches are popping up around London (the other three are in Marylebone, Chiswick and Farringdon). They seem to have nailed the formula: appealing yet unfussy decor, great vibe, friendly service (although they struggle to be attentive when the venue is busy), extensive wine list, a decent section of wines by the glass, and simple yet delicious food. To be fair, I have not yet sampled their main menu, but if the cured meats are anything to go by I’m sure I won’t be disappointed. Would absolutely go back.
53-55 Beak Street, London, W1F 9SH
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