Sunday, 13 January 2013
Vinopolis / Borough Market
Who are they?
Vinopolis are a small chain of wine-themed restaurants, whose website seems more intent on emphasising the "experience" rather than anything about the food and drink served. The venue I visited was located underneath the railway arches at the south east side of trendy Borough Market. This spacious bar and restauant is a contradiction in terms, as it has its own microbrewery on site and they were proudly selling a variety of beers and ales alongside the usual lagers you can find pretty much anywhere. Quite unexpected for a restaurant trumpeting its selection of wines, but good to see a microbrewery in central London.
Going in on a Wednesday evening, there was no trouble in getting a space to eat alongside the throng of businessmen propping up the bar, although I do have to mention that the service left much to be desired. Put simply, there was a communication problem with our non-English speaking waitress to the effect that ordering food or even requesting the menu brought back memories of trying to speak to waiting staff in Spanish restaurants. Never mind; I opted for a pint of their dark beer and their burger offering: a bacon and cheeseburger served with a french fries.
The burger came with some kind of house burger sauce on the top of the burger, which I found a little strange at first. However, I quickly realised that it was meant to be eaten with the sweet chili relish that was served alongside the burger and the two actually worked to contrast each other when eaten. It sort of begs the question of why they bothered serving the relish separately when it should have already been in the burger.
The patty itself did seem to be made of nicer stuff than you might expect of any chain restaurant, with ample cheese, bacon and bun to round things off with, however as large as it is when presented the Vinopolis burger is unfortunately nothing in particular to write home about. The same could be said of the fries, which certainly aren't there to live up to any particular standard, but at least come well cooked and are numerous enough to satisfy any appetite. It's an OK burger, but not so great compared with the competition I have come to expect and I was left wondering if they had considered using the local butchers in Borough market to source some choice cuts in order to offer up something a bit more special.
However, as a meal it goes very well with the locally-brewed beer and made a nice change from the usual lagers on offer. Perhaps if I had had a bit more time, I would have tried the pale ale that was on offer as well, but probably better left for another time.
A passable effort deserving only of an average score, but as they are not out to serve burgers, it is to be expected. Bonus points for the on-site brewery!
Where can I find them?
There are currently five restaurants across London