Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Vinoteca (Marylebone)

So I was really looking forward to this one (clue how it's going to go?) and met The Piglet on a Friday night to check it out. Vinoteca 'Marylebone' isn't really in what most people associate with Marylebone, but in those fairly non-descript streets behind Marble Arch, basically on Edgware Road. Its actual location is quite London-y and quaint, with a decent looking pub, and an intriguing Corsican pizza joint Sandy’s.

A West End replica of the original in Farringdon had me very excited, and The Piglet was dutifully waiting for a table with two glasses of prosecco (on tap, bonus point!) surrounded by shelves of very tempting looking bottles of wine for sale.

We didn't wait too long for our table (a miracle in these post-reservation mid-range West End times – will 2012 mark the return of the reservation?) and sat down to order a curious Australian Sangiovese, which I'd not encountered before. It was fruity and soft, pretty easy drinking.

We ordered the Spanish charcuterie platter for two (£11.50) which was where the disappointment began.
It looked quite cool, but was served on a pretty ordinary plate and only contained two types of meat; a salami and a chorizo, both in abundance but the plate looked a little bit tragic and miserly with the absence of any jamon or lomo. The meats were tasty enough, but a bit repetitive, especially with no bread.

I then had that underdog favourite, the Bavette steak (£14.50) which the rather surly waitress loftily informed me "the chef recommends this is served medium-rare." Of course. Quite.
Pity that it arrived so medium there were barely any pink spots on it, and the horseradish served with it was ladelled on so liberally that the choice of having a little or none was denied for most of it. Disclaimer: I quite like some punchy horseradish, but this was excessive as it dominated the flavour of the otherwise good quality meat. Disappointing.

The chips were good though, but huge and required some ketchup - this request was met with a slight sneer, and it never showed up...and the salad was browning to the point of being almost dead!

The Piglet had Bristol Channel Cod with monks beard, clams & wild garlic (£14.50) which was well received, but there was too much liquid from the various marine ingredients which led to the whole dish becoming rather watery towards the end. The fish was well cooked however.

The service on the night (and I stress on the night) was pretty awful - we sat with our finished plates in front of us for about ten minutes, before one of the barmen spotted from afar and came over to clear them. It took about ten minutes again to get the bill (we weren't inclined to order coffee or dessert) and even longer to subsequently pay it. The total was about £70 which was quite reasonable.

Add in a forgotten tap water and the ketchup, and we were miffed. It sounds a little bit trivial looking back but these are major affronts when you're in the zone...

So a real let-down sadly, but interestingly, it's made me realise decent service is easily taken for granted, and really can ruin an experience.

I'd go back, as it's unfair to write a place off on one visit, but there are so many places on my list first. Until then, next time I'm in Marylebone proper, it'll be La Fromagerie or L'Entrecote. And the next time I'm in Vinoteca's end of Marylebone, I'll grab a shawarma from the Edgware Road...

Food – 6/10
Drink – 8/10
Service – 4/10
Value – 7/10
Tap water tales – 3/10 (requested, one forgotten, one ice-less lukewarm glass) 
Staff Hotness – 4/10 (the dour, invisible waitress may as well have had devil horns by the end! Saviour barman was handsome though)

15 Seymour Place W1 5BD

Vinoteca on Urbanspoon


  1. Oh no, such a shame to hear you didn't have a great experience. I love this place and the service was so friendly in my experience. I wonder where it all went wrong? Still, I think places get 1 shot to win you over - there are too many good options these days!

  2. I know! I was so looking forward to it after so many good reviews. Perhaps somebody had been rude to the server just before? I guess you have no idea why service might be off on a given day...!