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The Vintner Cafe & Wine Bar (Stratford-upon-Avon)

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Address: 4 & 5 Sheep Street / Stratford-upon-Avon / CV37 6EF / UK

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      09.06.2010 16:00
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      A fantastic restaurant with great food at very reasonable prices.

      The Vintner is one of my favourite UK restaurants and I was fairly surprised it was not already here on Dooyoo as it is one of the 3 big hitters of Stratford Upon Avon restaurants (the other two being it's sister restaurants Lambs and The Oppo). All three of these restaurants sit in a line on Sheep Street and have built up a reputation as the place to go for pre or post theatre food and drinks, of the three The Vintner is my favourite because it is the more reasonably priced than Lambs but the food and service are equally good. I have not yet tried The Oppo (which is now owned by the same people) as if I can get in at the Vintner it is always my first choice. So, this last bank holiday weekend my husband and I spent a leisurely weekend in Stratford, a town which I am very familiar with but he did not know at all. I was determined we would eat here and therefore insisted we arrived for dinner at 6.30pm which is quite early, but I hoped would guarantee us a table. I was right to be so cautious, we got the last table for two available without booking and then watched at least 50 (I am not kidding) people stroll in and get turned away asking for the same thing. Partly this popularity might be because it was a bank holiday and the sun had been out all day so Stratford was very busy, but I would seriously recommend booking here if you want a table at a particular time on a specific day. Anyway, this restaurant has a very happy, lively atmosphere to it which I like. The staff are always very friendly and helpful and the service has been consistently good on the many times I have visited. The a la carte menu here is quite varied and contains some great vegetarian options too, including a portobello mushroom burger which I have tried on previous occasions and can attest is very tasty. Appetizers are priced at £3.75 per item and there are plenty to choose from, including asparagus tips with crayfish mayonnaise and devilled chicken livers. Starters are all between £4.75 and £6.95 and mains are between £10.95 and £16.25. They also offer a light meal section priced between £6.75 and £10.25 which features salads and bread based meals for in case you are not overly hungry. Steaks have their own section on the menu (and this place is renowned for them) and are priced from £12.25 for the rump up to £19.95 for the fillet. Various sides are available for between £2.50 and £3.95 and the desserts are all £5.25, a cheeseboard is £6.25 but money well spent (so says my other half who had one this time round). It is also always worth checking the specials board which changes frequently and offers some great local produce. We ordered a bottle of South African pinotage-shiraz for £14.50 off the very reasonable and quite extensive wine list and pondered over what to eat. Deciding to go for only mains and desserts as we had also had a substantial pub lunch, I opted for the rump steak with potato dauphinoise and a garlic and chilli butter, whilst my other half was intrigued by the fish stew on the specials board and ordered that. Both of us were very impressed with our food (and I felt very smug after my insistance that this was THE place to eat that night), my steak was perfectly cooked as ever, I asked for it medium and it was like butter to cut, very tasty indeed and particularly complimented by the flavoured butter. My potato dauphinoise were deliciously indulgent and held the shape perfectly. I only wish I could master this dish at home as it is one of my favourites! My other half was over the moon with his fish stew which contained king prawns, mussels, white fish and squid, he barely said a word while eating and then mopped up every last bit of the stew with some bread. I have always adored the puddings here, which are home made and absolutely delicious (plus ridiculously generous portions) and I was glad I had opted out of a starter to leave room. I went for the strawberry cheesecake whilst the other half opted for the cheeseboard as previously mentioned. As ever, my cheesecake was devine, so light and fluffy it could almost be a mousse if it didnt taste so rich, the base was not heavy either and the whole thing was thoroughly enjoyable. The cheeseboard consisted of some shropshire blue, brie and a mature cheddar, plus grapes, celery and some mixed crackered, it looked very good, was served beautifully presented on a long wooden board to be used as a plate and was, apparently all very good. Our meal came to £58 including the wine which we considered very good value for the standard of food we had eaten. Considering the wonderful location, the standard of service and the demand that this place has, I think they do well not to be more expensive, but then this is probably why people choose them over Lambs in the first instance. They also offer a two course set menu between 12-7pm, Monday to Friday which has some great options on it such as crabcakes and lamb casserole, excellent value if you are in town early. Try and get a table in the window if you can as this is a great place for people watching. Also, be aware that the stairs are incredibly steep and the toilets are accessible via these this may be an issue for some. Booking is always recommended but this restaurant is well worth it if you can get in and remains one of my favourite UK restaurants still.

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