Vins Pulls Off The Impossible Trick Of Being Simultaneously Intimate And Buzzy
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Upon going through the door at Vins, we're greeted by a black curtain, ahead of us, to the left of us and finally to the right. It's like a little containment chamber, a place that makes clear you're separating yourself from the outside world and entering an entirely new one.
Stepping through that curtain, it becomes clear why the team at Vins wanted to seclude the restaurant from its surroundings. The atmospherically-lit spot manages to tread the fine line of being simultaneously both intimate and buzzy.
We sit down and are faced with a menu where every single dish vies for our attention. So we do the obvious thing and opt for the sharing platter — an afternoon tea-style stacked tray of delights, including marinated aubergines and pickled cucumber — along with a few other dishes. The highlight comes from the fittingly autumnal butternut squash with ricotta and cavolo nero (curried kale). It's the kind of dish that leaves you desperately trying to scrape the dregs of sauce off the plate long after the food is gone. It's just that good. We also want to shoutout the artichoke crisps served on a bed of skordalia. If we're ever elected Mayor of London, our first decree will be to ensure that every restaurant in the city serves at least one dish featuring skordalia.
With a name like Vins, we can't just discuss the food. Vino is a huge part of the attraction here, and Vins goes above and beyond to seek out the most exciting and genre-pushing vintages from across the globe. It's especially encouraging to see some lesser-known wine regions featured on the menu, like Slovakia. We go for the Sonoma Mountain Winery Merlot, a natural wine that's been left to ferment on its own. It touches the tongue and there's an immediate zing of slight carbonation, but give it a second and it opens up to you completely — like greeting an old friend in a liquidy embrace.
The night ends with a plate of three cheeses, served casually with homemade crackers. Each is delicious and they're all different enough in flavour and texture from each other to have their own moment in the spotlight. But the Brillat Savarin from Burgundy takes the crown. Confidently creamy and flavoursome, we end the night by asking our waiter for more details, and he helpfully spells out the cheese's name and where exactly we can procure ourselves some.
It's moments of care like this that sum up our most excellent evening in Vins.
Vins, 93 Grovesnor Avenue, Canonbury, N5 2NL
Last Updated 23 October 2019