Vinoteca started out as a humble but simply knockout little wine bar in Clerkenwell. It got the right balance between emphasis on food or wine by doing both well. With a broad yet well-chosen selection by the glass, it allowed you to stray beyond the familiar, and explore interesting grape varieties, wine regions and producers at a fair price. After trying a glass of wine, you could buy a bottle to take home.
That was ten years ago. Since then the company has expanded and has just opened this huge fifth site, in King’s Cross, occupying much of the ground floor of a newly built office block.
Good and affordable wines by the glass are still the main draw; bargain-hunters will particularly like the handful that are ‘fresh from keg & box’. Our Spanish box red at a mere £3.70 (125ml) was perfectly potable, but we particularly liked the chilled French red (a Chinon costing £4.60), and an Italian white (Friuli, £5.40) with its slight almond scent.
On one of the sunniest and therefore busiest days of the summer so far, the outside terrace was rammed with people, yet service was on the ball. We were intercepted as soon as we crossed the threshold and steered to vacant seats before we’d broken stride.
The terrace overlooks a pedestrianised border of King’s Boulevard, the walkway leading from the Regent’s Canal to King’s Cross St Pancras station. The only traffic is the occasional Brompton-riding commuter heading to the station. Life feels pretty good sitting out on the terrace nibbling some charcuterie, a British cheese platter, or maybe a summery fish or vegetable course costing around the £10 to £15 mark.