It is good to have local knowledge, we certainly would not have known about Mon Vinic without it.
Mon Vinic is more than just a stylish wine bar and restaurant. The emphasis here is firmly on the wine, which is selected via PC Tablet that breaks it down by Country, Grape and cost. For the techies out there the OS was Microsoft and it crashed while the waitress was showing us how to use it.
We went here at short notice, so did not manage to get a table in the restaurant. Instead with had Tapas in the bar area opposite the glass box that forms the not so private dinning area, so we were able to get a good feel for the place.
The Tapas selection is small, we ordered a selection of cheese and meat and some beautifully cooked cuttlefish crockets, accompanied by a glass of Au Bon Climat, Santa Maria Valley AVA, Pinot Noir 2004 and Aldonia, DOC Rioja. La Dama 2005.
We then ordered dessert, a mixed chocolate dish and a banana and coconut concoction (very pina colada), with a half glass of Emilio Lustau Pedro Ximenez (more than enough off this rich raisony sherry) and a glass of Bodegas Pedro Luis Martinez DO Jumilla. Monastrell Alceno, 2004
It’s so easy to visualize Nils and Frazer sitting in the glass box sipping fine wines, with Roz and Daphne sitting at the Bar chating up the waiters.
Next time we will plan ahead and get a table in the popular restaurant.
It is a modern take on a good Italian Trattoria, in that it is informal and makes no attempt to “tart up” the presentation of the dishes. Which are made from fresh ingredients and beautifully cooked.
For starters I had the Zucca Friters (Pumpkin in batter) and my companion had the Speck (juniper flavored ham) and Pigeon Crostini, both very nice but we had to make use of the olive oil provided with the bread to enhance them. Some pesto or a dip of some sort would have been ideal with my Friters.
There was small selection of main courses, basically meat/fish with some greens, so if you want pasta you need to order as a separate course. I ordered Pigeon, it was superb, tasty and moist – actually better than the Pigeon I had in Cibrèo in Florence which is a real compliment.
I would have liked to have tried the Amaretto tart for dessert but they had ran out, so we made do with some home made ice cream.
The wine list included several options by the glass and a range of reasonably priced bottles.
The marketing for Alfies a near neighbour to Zucca, describes Alfies as “a significant addition to Bermondsey’s burgeoning foodie scene”. That description did not fit Alfies, but does most definately describe Zucca.
We started in the bar area with some delicious canapes and a glass of the house champagne then moved to our table where we had the dilemma, do we go for the tasting menu or do we go À la carte? Tough one.
There were so many lovely sounding starters on the À la carte, we were pushed in that direction. Which was actually a mistake, as we have effectively trained ourselves to appreciate the smaller portions and broader taste range of tasting menus. So the larger portions for the mains were a bit of a struggle. The other plus for going the tasting menu route is if one course is not so great then it’s not such a big deal, as it effectively gets lost in the crowd.
Two of us made main course choices that really showed off The Squares cuisine. I had the Roast Saddle of Lincolnshire Hare with a Tarte Fine of Celeriac and Pear which was amazing and one of my companions had the Fillet of Aged Ayrshire Beef with Autumn Truffle, Smoked Bone Marrow and Red Wine, again stunning but too large a portion. My other companion choose the Caramelised Pork Belly with Glazed Trotter, Savoy Cabbage, Langoustine Claws and Lentils and was very disappointed, as the Pork Belly was very fatty. Which was such as shame as up until that point everything had been sublime.
The pre dessert was a rather nice doughnut and rhubarb/raspberry concoction. Then for dessert I had a very boozy Rum and Raisin Soufflé with Gingerbread Ice Cream – stunning. To finish we then had coffee and some Armagnac. This was served with a nicely balanced selection of petits fours that consisted of some chocolate/nutty/Carmel truffles and a range of lollipop style sweets. We finished them all. Only to have a second set delivered later.
The Square like Hibiscus has 2 Michelin stars and 4 AA Rosettes, but from the point of view of imagination and food quality based on our visits to both these restaurants, the Square is streets ahead of Hibiscus. However when we directly compared it to Tom Aikens which has 1 Michelin star and 5 AA Rosettes, the conclusion was that Tom Aikens pipped The Square at the post.