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Launch of Sabrina's one-to-one private cookery tuition Guest critic on Gordon Ramsay's 'F-Word' series finale Organised Top Chef Charity Banquet for Haiti raising £70,000 for 'Action Against Hunger' Seasonal Food & Recipe Writer for 'Blue Tomato'

Winner of Channel 4's 'Come Dine With Me' (West London) 'Bronze' winner in professionally judged 'AA Home Cooking Competition 2009' Appointed resident cookery columnist for Foodepedia

Japanese Rice Risotto with Miso, Lemongrass and Scallops

Japanese Rice Risotto with Miso, Lemongrass and Scallops

Seasonal Penne Mediterraneo

Seasonal Penne Mediterraneo

Persian Split Pea, Dried Lime and Lamb Stew

Persian Split Pea, Dried Lime and Lamb Stew

Sunday, 6 March 2011

REVIEW: Vinoteca, Marylebone W1

When my friend invited me to dinner at Vinoteca, I heard the word 'Vino' and being someone who doesn't actually drink wine (unless its a dessert wine) I wasn't overly enthused but being that she is a fellow foodie, she is most definitely someone who can be trusted to choose somewhere suitable for dinner.

Tucked away in Seymour Place, right behind Edgware Road, Vinoteca is an intimate buzzy bistro with walls lined with scores of different wines and a list of over 285 wines available for purchase. They don't take reservations and although the restaurant was totally full, we didn't wait more than 10 minutes before we were seated... this in itself means extra brownie points for them in my opinion.

The menu is an informal mix of hearty rustic dishes, Tapas style dining and other delicious sounding combinations each paired with a wine recommendation, for the devoted wine drinker. The kitchen is visible and the Chefs pass is in plain sight for all to see. Not feeling overly hungry (yes, a rare event in my lifetime) I chose the goat cheese and beetroot salad with vinaigrette dressing and walnuts and my friend chose the salad of smoked eel with potatoes and mixed leaves. Now eel is something that I have always said, you would have to kill me to make me eat and how on earth people eat jellied eels, is beyond me! But, when the salad was served up, it did look rather good. My friend offered some to me and I was quick to turn her down but changed my mind in the spirit of trying new things and was surprised how delicious it was. My own salad was pretty straight forward but really gratifying. I love beetroots, yellow and purple and love goats cheese and walnuts, so it was a winning combination for me.

I realised that for the first time in my life, I accidentally ordered an entirely vegetarian menu... This has NEVER happened before... so once my tagliatelle with Pied de Mouton mushrooms arrived, I was hoping that it would do the trick for me and I wasn't disappointed. An extra heavy hit of garlic which luckily I love was a suitable companion to the mushrooms and the al dente ribbons of homemade tagliatelle; very satisfying. My friend opted for a lighter main course of 'Lomito' cured pork loin with blood oranges with almonds and Jalapeno peppers; a vibrant visual plate or delicious cured meat with the juicy citrus kick from the sharp slivers of blood orange. Delicious and so much better then the non-existent blood orange slivers hiding under the Burrata cheese I ate at Nopi restaurant recently ans curiously almost half the price!

Three of the dishes we ate were priced at just £6.50; what a bargain, no? My handmade tagliatelle pasta was priced at just £10.50 and loaded with meaty mushrooms. You can't even get that sort of value at Ask, Zizzi or any of the other dodgy high street chains anymore; and you certainly can't match the quality of produce used by Vinoteca. For dessert, we shared a lovely rhubarb fool (which we forgot to take a snap of) but was served in a rather stylish Martini glass with a lovely biscotti and I did have a cheeky glass of 2007 VAT 5 Botrytis Semillon de Bortoli to wash my dessert down with, which was a rather splendid way to end a rather splendid meal.

Vinoteca, despite its wine affiliation, won me over for its food. I am definitely coming back to eat here because the food is fantastic and the prices are incredibly reasonable for the high standard of cooking and service you receive. A gem of a find that I am reluctantly sharing with you but this is definitely one of those lovely little London discoveries that is too good to keep secret.

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