This is the fourth London site of Vinoteca, a restaurant with an emphasis on wine. It is in Devonshire road, a busy shopping street off the Chiswick High Road, almost opposite La Trompette. The dining room had a large display of wines along one wall, the tables quite tightly packed in. The chef is James Robsen, who since early 2012 had worked at River Café, and prior to that as head chef at Artisan and Vine in Battersea, and also as head chef at Restaurant l’Office in Paris. Starters were priced from £5.50 to £8.50, main courses £12 to £17.50, side dishes at £3 and desserts £5.50 to £6, with coffee at £2.50.
There were 270 wines on the list, which started at £15.95 and ranged widely – there were five wines from Greece listed, and even wines from Slovenia and Croatia, as well as plenty of coverage of France, Italy and Spain. Even normally neglected Germany was covered, with ten wines including two rarely seen German reds. Examples wines include One Chain The Opportunist 2011 at £22.50 for a wine that retails at around £8, Urbina Gran Reserva 1996 at £42.75 for a wine that you can find in the high street for £22, up to grander wines like Pessac Leognan Domaine de Chevalier 1989 at £153.50 for a wine that will set you back £85 in a shop. Mineral water was a relatively modest £2.50 a bottle.
Game terrine (£8) was served with toast and wild pear membrillo (paste). The terrine was rather chunky in texture, the pear paste not really sharp enough to cut through the richness of the terrine (11/20). Grilled scallops (£8.50) with black rice, aioli and red radish featured decent quality scallops that had been slightly overcooked and not perfectly trimmed prior to cooking. Though the radish was fine, the rocket leaves lacked the characteristic peppery taste that good quality rocket has (11/20).
Brill was better, accurately cooked and served with slightly soft borlotti beans, spinach and a little lemon providing useful acidity (12/20). Middlewhite pork braised in milk with lentils and red kale would not win any prizes for presentation, looking not so much plated as dropped onto the crockery. The pork itself was rather overcooked, the lentils too soft (10/20). Chips on the side were reasonable, though not as crisp as they could be (12/20).
For dessert, chocolate, hazelnut and espresso cake tasted of its component parts, though the cake’s texture was too dry, and the presentation rather sloppy (11/20). I preferred “comis (sic) pear and almond tart”. The comice pear was nicely sharp, the pastry reasonable (12/20). Coffee had limited flavour.
Service was efficient. The bill was £68 a head, which seemed to me a lot of money for the standard of food that appeared on our plates. If you ordered a cheaper wine then a typical bill might be around £58 a head. The locals seem untroubled, with the dining room packed on a weekday night just days after opening.