Party Earth Review No need to board a plane to travel the globe – London dwellers can just head to Vinoteca and revel in a booze-powered journey with hundreds of wines from all over the world. The combination wine shop, bar, and restaurant... ... read full review
7 St John Street
London EC1M 4AA
Circle, Hammersmith & City, Metropolitan Lines: Barbican, Farringdon
020 7253 8786
Camden Town / Islington, London –
No need to board a plane to travel the globe – London dwellers can just head to Vinoteca and revel in a booze-powered journey with hundreds of wines from all over the world.
The combination wine shop, bar, and restaurant has been a big hit with a diverse mix of regulars since opening in 2005, catering to foodies, snooty oenophiles, and plenty of budget-minded grape enthusiasts with its vast selection, regularly changing menu, and wholly unpretentious vibe.
Relaxed during the day, the small space picks up energy as gentlemen gather after work, their Financial Times abandoned as they reminisce over a bottle of Chianti, while trendy-hip locals perch on side stools at the bar to review the daily specials scrawled on the giant chalkboards.
Full-length windows and an array of wooden café furniture foster a relaxed yet sophisticated environment, buoyed by the dressed-up girls drenching chunks of baguette in olive oil and the creative groups of friends trying to pick from a seasonal menu that might include mussels, roasted pigeon, and spinach lasagna.
Serious connoisseurs are drawn to the corner alcove beside the bar, where row upon row of bottles for sale weigh down thick wooden shelves, while celebratory groups take advantage of the massive table in the private dining area downstairs.
With a selection that would please a sommelier and the laid-back ambiance of an Italian café, Vinoteca satisfies every kind of wino.
Wine lovers, couples on dates and older couples, groups of friends getting together for a special occasion, local businessmen, foodies, and after-work young professionals, mid-20s to mid-50s.
The sounds of conversation, the clinking of glasses, and the popping of corks.
Full menu of seasonal bistro food, which might include fig and guinea fowl terrine, prune salad, pan-seared hake, fried n’dyja sausage, pearl barley, roasted pigeon, and mussels. All Vinoteca’s wines can be purchased online.
Reservations not accepted except for lunch, and those booking the private room downstairs.
Starters £6–£7.50, entrées £10–£15. Beer £4+, wine £2.50–£14+/glass or £14.50–£183+/bottle, spirits £3–£12.
Business casual to trendy: suits, checkered shirts, chinos, dresses with perfectly matched accessories, pullover jumpers.
Any day before 6pm for the best chance to grab a seat, or any night – weekends especially – after 6pm to join a line of boisterous folks at the bar waiting for a table to free up.
Smiths Of Smithfield (67-77 Charterhouse Street) is a massive restaurant with an industrial ground-floor bar, a dedicated series of wine rooms on the first floor, a styling dining room after that, and a swanky rooftop to cap it all off.