Winter in EC4 at Vinoteca City, Cannon Street

22 Jan 2018

Apparently, 2018 is set to be the year of Veganism, kicking off with ‘Veganuary’ this January, but what in God’s name does this mean for eating out? When it comes to Vegan cafes, you can find yourself stuck between a rock and a hard place, the rock being ‘peace on Earth’ quotes and the hard place being walls of Morrissey posters. Surely, in a capital city, there is a better way of eating a bit less meat and bit more veg without being restricted to small cafes in Hackney with a residential cat?

Vinoteca restaurants take inspiration from the wine bars of Spain and Italy, with their vast variety of wines and seasonal food. Since the first swing of their Farringdon doors in 2005 they have opened up in a further five locations, the newest of which being Vinoteca City, near Bank. The latter offers roast dinners and smooth techno jazz on a Sunday to entice a weekend crowd. When thinking of Sunday smooth jazz in the city I think of dark drinking dens all cigarettes and candles – not Yorkshire puddings, long bars and big windows.

When I go along it’s one of those dark, cold, winter days, the kind to make you long for the comfort of your bed and protection of your duvet exclusively, but the light pouring in from the huge overly-architectured windows of Vinoteca make it feel like Cannes in high summer. Almost.

The first (and main) meatless dish, the roast harlequin squash and hazelnut persillade (£13) was colourful and appetizing, tasting thick and wintery with the bright orange squash enhanced by strong parsley and garlic. This partnered with an assortment of garlic flower sprouts (£4) chicory, broccoli, spinach (£4) and roasted Charlotte potatoes (£4) made me feel as happy as Peter Rabbit in Mr McGregor’s garden. Each one shined with butter, salt and herbs, the kind of seasoning to make you blush on reflection like a naughty secret.

Visually, Vinoteca is a real hottie: the metallic bar, the peek of the private mezzanine, the wood shelves housing wine, after wine, after wine – think British Library gone wild and sparkly. Vinoteca City must be the Achilles heel for the workers in its vicinity during the week, easily luring them away from their desks with alcohol and outside terrace like a mouse finding peanut butter on the end of a trap, but spending a Sunday evening here is ideal, the waiters have time to tend to your every need and you can avoid crowds without sacrificing any atmosphere.

Of course, the food didn’t stop with the main, next was the Masala poached figs for dessert (£6). They sat in their bowl of vanilla yogurt looking ugly; four wrinkled figs resembling an OAP who’d spent too long in the bath. They tasted delightful though, filling the pallet with the most wintery of winter flavours: cinnamon spice. It was a great partner to the cheese from Neal’s Yard (£9.50) that I may, or may not have also demolished.

With its peace-on-earth atmosphere and assortment of wonderfully cooked veg I could have a very happy Veganuary at Vinoteca City, raising a glass to the fact that there isn’t a cat or Morrissey poster in sight.

Lindsey

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