In the midst of a small boom in independent and informal wine bars—five opened in London in October and November, following an array of several new ventures in the past year—the one that kick-started the trend has spun off a sibling.
Vinoteca Seymour Place, in the increasingly food-friendly Marleybone neighbourhood, is an offshoot of the highly successful Vinoteca, near Smithfield Market.
The new incarnation is in a similar format to the original—wood floor, simple furniture, a wall of wine alongside the bar (it doubles as a wine shop), and a cooking area tucked into a corner behind the bar, very much an open kitchen. Two dozen wines by the glass are listed on a large blackboard.
The food, cooked by chef Will Leigh, formerly of Kensington Place and the Blueprint Café, is satisfyingly robust and somewhat rustic, as in roast beef and grilled onion sandwich, venison and wild mushroom pie, roast pork and butter beans with crumb topping, roast sea bass, grilled steak, charcuterie and British cheeses.
Co-owner Brett Woonton said they had already established a solid local trade, as his neighbours had realized the values offered: There are six wines listed at less than £4 per glass, with most of the remainder under £6. ‘The great thing is, they now know they can trust us on the selections and value, and they’re getting involved and trading up.’
The wine list is 285 bins from all over the world, ranging from stellar choices to quirky discoveries, thoroughly annotated, organized by country and colour, available to drink in or take away. France, Spain and Italy are most heavily featured, but you can also find a Muller-Thurgau from Slovakia or Zweigelt-Pinot Noir from Austria.
An interesting innovation is a trio of very drinkable wines that are imported from the Loire Valley in 10-litre bag-in-boxes and bottled at Vinoteca; customers can bring back the empties to be refilled at a reduced price. ‘It’s reviving the old idea of a proper house wine,’ says Woonton, “along with the idea of making some carbon-emission savings, doing our bit for the next generation.’
Vinoteca, 15 Seymour Place, London W1H 5BD. Tel: +44 (0)20 7724 7288; www.vinoteca.co.uk. Open noon to 11 pm Monday-Saturday, noon to 5 pm Sunday.
Written by Brian St Pierre