|Whole roasted partridge with lentils & green sauce|
I love the original, and now I love the new one. Vinoteca has opened a new branch in Marylebone.
It's just off Edgeware Road near where, incidentally, I recently discovered the gastronomic joy that is shopping at Lebanese grocer, Green Valley. Everything you could ever need to work your way through the Ottolenghi cookbook is right there or, like me, you could buy lots of things you don't need (like a large jar of preserved lemons for just over £1) just because they look pretty. There's also a busy bakery for sweet pastries and cakes. Anyhoo...
The concept at Vinoteca Marylebone is the same as at Farringdon. Part wine bar, part restaurant, there's a great selection of wines at reasonable prices, and - if you have to wait for a table - you can browse the floor to ceiling shelves laden with temptation to drink in or take home.
The food is rustic and simple, but with a hearty oomph. Each course is matched to one of the 25 wines available by the glass, or you can choose from one of over 280 bottles. We stopped by for a bottle of wine and a one course meal, so we bypassed the tempting sounding starters (like smoked eel with celeriac and apple remoulade and wheaten toast (£8)) and got stuck into a big spicy South African (the Cape Chamonix Rouge for £19.75), while soaking up the buzz.
My whole roasted partridge with a wintry lentil stew was meaty and heartwarming, although I found the generous splodge of garlicky, herby green sauce just a little too overpowering (other minds might differ on this).
TPG almost went for the lamb pie - a billowing pastry case packed full with finely minced lamb and vegetables. However, in the end he wavered in favour of the bavette steak, pink and juicy at medium rare, with thick cut, crispy chips and salad - a favourite from our visits to the Farringdon branch. The accompanying bread sauce was also excellent.
Vinoteca Marylebone is already busy. We had a short wait (about 10 minutes) for a table, but the friendly waiting staff (who still seem excited to be there) looked after us well. We simply sat by the window (or you can sit at the bar) and made a head start on the wine.
Main courses generally cost between £11 - £15 and our meal for 2 including wine and service was good value at £56.
The menu changes daily, so you're likely to see something new every time you go. Oh, yes - you will go again.
Vinoteca, 15 Seymour Place, Marylebone, London W1H 5BD, Tel: 020 7724 7288
PS. I know it seems weird that we didn't have dessert, but we stopped by at Princi in Soho on the way home where they now have these gorgeous little "Italian kisses" - they're satisfyingly crisp on the outside, but lovely and chewy within. As usual for Princi's sweet stuff, they're a rip off at £1.20 for 3, but they're so good that we keep going back for them despite our principles.