Review: Vinopolis, Bankside
Dedicated wine lovers may already be familiar the sprawling 2.5-acre site at Vinopolis.
Set in the heart of the vibrant bank side between London Bridge and the Tate Modern, the venue offers wine enthusiasts a chance to learn more about their favourite tipple through guided tours, tasting and masterclasses.
But it also houses a real hidden gem for those who would rather fill their bellies.
Tucked away under the exposed bricks of huge Victorian railway arches, Cantina Vinopolis is a restaurant that needs to be on your to do list.
The dramatic restaurant setting is really something and if the food on your plate was not so stunning, you would be forgiven for gazing up at the high ceilings and imagining the world that passed underneath them a century ago.
Created by award-winning restaurateurs Claudio Pulze and Trevor Gulliver, it is all about the food and service.
But as expected, given its location, the wine list is also an impressive one.
If you would like to whet your appetite before heading through the grand floor-to-ceiling curtains for your meal, Bar Blue is the perfect place.
Part of the Vinopolis estate, the bar is decked out in Bombay Sapphire blues and serves a mean cocktail.
It is well worth arriving a little early just to sample some of the sumptuous cocktails on the menu, which include rhubarb mojitos and honeycomb margaritas.
Now let us get down to the food.
I am a girl who loves her food, sometimes an unhealthy amount, and I left Cantina Vinopolis stuffed to within an inch of my life, but still smiling.
It is the sort of restaurant where no matter how full you get; you keep on ordering because you want to keep on tasting the food.
Every dish brought out had me audibly wowing, then quickly placing my hand over my mouth in an attempt to retain an air of dignity.
To start, I had goats cheese, beetroot and shallot tart served with salad and balsamic vinaigrette.
“An excellent choice,” my waitress told me.
I thought she was just being polite, until my dish arrived.
The sweetness of the beetroot against the strength of the goats cheese was heavenly.
I came over all Giles Coren dissecting it, desperate to salvage some knowledge of how to recreate it at home, then gave up and ate it with unladylike speed.
For the main I plumped for venison steak served with stuffed savoy cabbage and gratin of two potatoes.
I could quite easily have eaten every option on the menu, and with every dish delivered to my fellow diners I felt a pang of food envy.
However, the venison was incredible.
Rich, tasty, and perfectly cooked. What more can you say?
Thanks to my well-planned stretchy pants, I had just enough give in the elastic for pudding, and had no choice but to order chocolate fondant with raspberry sorbet, as my chocolate religion strictly forbids anything healthier.
I was praising the chocolate lord after my first mouthful and for those forced to watch as I fingered every remnant from my plate, I apologise wholeheartedly.
Women, chocolate lovers, those in need of comfort after a hideous break-up - this pud was made for you.
The best thing of all though has to be the price.
With mains ranging from £14.50 to £21.50, and a daily menu which offers two courses for £25.95 or three courses for £29.95, there really is no excuse not to go.
Visit vinopoliscantina.com to book.