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Cantina Vinopolis (London)

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BRASSERIE / MODERN EUROPEAN. No 1 Bank End, Southwark, SE1 (London Bridge tube). Tel: +44 (0)20 7940 8333 Fax: +44 (0)20 7940 8334. Pre-booking is advised. Awarded a Michelin red M within 4 months of opening. Extensive wine list. Available for functions

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      17.09.2001 18:20
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      I believe that in order for a restaurant to be correctly judged, it needs to have been visited more than once. An example of this was with Nobu - amazing the first time, truely disappointing the second. Having only eaten at Cantina Vinopolis once, I will give it the benefit of the doubt. But only just. I will revisit soon to sew up my indecision once and for all. It has so much going for it. The location in the eerie streets of Bankside, under the railway arches, are suitable atmospheric (as long as it's not spoiled by Archie and Mildred Spakentucker from Arkansas wearing clothes designed by the Star Trek wardrobe team). The high vaulted ceiling and terribly 90s pine furniture exudes an environment that says "you're here to eat". Actually, you're here to marvel at the wine list. Cantina tale full advantage of its affiliation with its cousin, the Vinopolis Wine warehouse. Almost all varieties of wine are available to you (they have around 400 bins, all available by the glass), though apparent absence of a sommelier make it feel like I had a terrific gadget in my hands with no instruction manual. The food simply had to play second best to the wine list. And it did the job admirably. The menu had a mixture of influences from France, Italy, and others. Whilst the tuna carpaccio was good (just the right level of acidity on the fish), the main course of grilled chicken in a sun-dried tomato sauce with veg was dry. Memorably so. But I have heard great reports about some of the other dishes from friends. Which is why I'll be lenient on the score, and will report back when I eat there again. Worth going for the wine list itself. But then again, the Wine Wharf is just down the road...

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