Food Review: Vinoteca By Sula

April 23, 2012 8:14 am by

We were somewhat disappointed by Sula’s uninspired choice of decor for their new wine bar, Vinoteca in Worli. As frequent visitors to their elegant Nashik vineyard and adjacent resort Beyond, we were expecting Vinoteca to be a tastefully designed lounge rather than a posher version of Chateau Indage’s Ivy Bar & Bistro. Vinoteca, as we earlier reported, has walls painted in a deeper shade of burgundy than at Ivy, and seating upholstered in grey and maroon velvet as opposed to plain wooden chairs. The centerpiece is the bar, over which they’ve suspended an eye-catching light installation made with wine bottles. The boring decor is pretty much all the fault we could find with Vinoteca, where the staff is polite and knowledgeable, the food is light and flavour packed, and the relaxed atmosphere is conducive to drawn-out drinking sessions.

The wine menu lists Sula’s entire range as well as labels from Spain, France and Italy, most of which are sold by the glass and by the bottle. The accessible pricing is sure to lure wine faithfuls. The maximum you’ll have to pay for a glass of Sula is Rs300 for their Brut Rose, the most expensive imported wine, the Italian Ruffino Chianti, will set you back Rs460 for a glass. The only cocktail listed on the menu is their house special sangria, a fruity antidote to Mumbai’s unbearable summer days. Silvia Grimaldo, the Spanish chef who runs the Vinoteca kitchen, puts a twist on the sangria by using sparkling wine in this zingy cocktail served by the pitcher (Rs1,200).

Because wine is the focus at Vinoteca, the food menu features only small plates of tapas and pinchos (skewered appetisers). Grimaldo, who says she didn’t get too many opportunities to serve vegetarian food in Ibiza where she worked as a chef, does a fine job of the vegetarian tapas. We tried the quinoa salad and the salteado de setas y esparragos (sautéed mushrooms, asparagus, walnuts and cherry tomatoes tossed with feta). Diced fig and crumbly feta provided sweet and salty flavour to the quinoa, which is garnished with parsley and strands of rocket. The latter was also a salad, albeit a warm one, with a light olive oil dressing that did not overwhelm the flavours of the firm asparagus spears, crunchy walnut and tender mushrooms.

It’s a shame that the pinchos menu changes daily because the juicy mini lamb burgers that we ordered were outstanding and deserve a permanent place on the Vinoteca menu. The burger comprised a lightly spiced minced lamb patty, a slice of cheddar, briny gherkin, a healthy smattering of alfalfa, and a light smear of mayonnaise. The chicken crepe, also on the pinchos menu, was an entirely forgetabble dish made up of bland chicken wrapped in a pancake that was uttapa-like in consistency. With the berenjena rellena, a hearty dish of minced lamb cooked with herbs and tomato sauce and spooned onto a thin sliver of lightly roasted eggplant, Grimaldo showed that she works best, perhaps, with lamb.

The lemon pie had an unappetising, soggy crust and was too tart for our liking. Her champagne and wine infused dark and white chocolate truffles provided a more fitting closure to the evening of drinking, as did her adequately sweet Zinfandel laced sorbet (an off-the-menu dessert that you should ask for). The opening of Vinoteca may not bode well for the neighbouring Ivy Bar, where the food menu isn’t particularly enticing. But for Worli residents who bemoan the scarcity of dining options in their neighbourhood, the launch of Vinoteca calls for a toast.

A meal for two with alcohol costs approximately Rs2,400. This review was conducted anonymously.