Traditional wine bars have realised they need to offer more than bar snacks to accompany cracking open a bottle
Vinoteca has expanded its five London bars to include new hip hubs in Kings Cross and Soho, but the original site, tucked away on the lower end of St John Street in charming Clerkenwell, has atmosphere and conviviality by the ice bucketful, with the bonus that their menu now reflects the expectations of drinkers to soak up their Sancerre with a decent plate of food. It’s small and busy and the service is friendly and knowledgeable, with the short menu changing on a regular basis to reflect the seasons.
To start we chose the spiced Devonshire crab, with quinoa, fennel, radish and samphire salad, and the duck breast with shallot purée and sour cherry relish. The crisp, clean flavours of the salad complemented the generously portioned seafood, and the perfectly pink duck sat on a classic combination of smooth and tangy fruit. Both were utterly delicious. For mains we had gnocchi with mushrooms, taleggio cheese, baby artichokes and walnut dressing, plus whole lemon sole with purple sprouting broccoli and almond, caper and chilli butter. Both plates were bang on, expertly cooked and seasoned, full of delicate flavours. When the requirement is for good food, fine wine and a busy, buzzy atmosphere, this is the place.
7 St John Street, EC1M 4AA