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Restaurants & Bars

Vinoteca, Clerkenwell, London

limster | Jun 30, 200804:34 AM     3

A practical and reasonably affordable medium-length list of wines by the glass that seems (to me) selected to be amicable in taste and price and for sufficient diversity, rather chosen to be deep, comprehensive or representative. The bottles seems to follow a similar philosophy of accessibility, but cover more territory. Solid 2nd/3rd tier stuff that can be affordable and very enjoyable; don’t go expecting legendary vintages.

Beautifully smoked eel, retaining a hint of its natural dense and gelantinously resilient texture. A good composition: the tang and pungence of mustard, a whiff of willowy dill, the honesty of potatoes to for added rustic weight, and the sharpness of watercress to cut through it all, a necessity given the nearly excessive dabs of a mayonaissey dressing on the eel.

Roasted guinea fowl also shares the compositional balance: basil hangs in the air, crispy garlic chips add gravity, potato reprising its role, fruity bursts of cherry tomatoes, followed by a the light acidity in the dressing, enough to balance the dish without overwhelming wine. The meat is tender and juicy and while the skin could be admittedly crispier, this is probably a minor technical shortcoming.

The gamay by the glass was a solid accompaniement, a strawberry note at the front, a deeper and slightly mineral middle, followed by intense preserved sour plums (suan1 mei2). Not perfectly structured, but evened out nicely with the guinea fowl.

A very good coffee and date pudding with toffee sauce, moist and warm and sticky sweet. The vin santo suggested by the waitstaff was probably a touch too light; its nutty flavour was unimpaired, and there was some reasonance with the date flavour, but the sweetness was slightly overshadowed by the dessert.

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