Planet of the Grapes (good name, eh?) is a wine bar, which serves food, and sells wine retail from the shop at the front. In fact it’s two wine bars, and the chain is expanding. The one I went to last night is at 74-82, Queen Victoria St, London, EC4N 4SJ , and my neighbour is a shareholder. So I’ve declared my interest. BUT I am assured (by the almost zealously passionate Maitre D’ there) that, for this quality of wine, the prices are unbeatable. He told me of one particular bottle which sells retail for £33, you can drink it in the wine bar for £43, but a restaurant nearby charges £70 for the same bottle. Also, on a Monday night, when a restaurant up the road has a “no corkage” promotion, he says they do a roaring trade in people buying £40-50 bottles of wine to drink with their meals nearby.
Foodwise, I ate shell-on prawns with a garlic aoli (messy but nice, although the aoli could have done with a bit more flavour). Then I really fancied home-made chunky chips with the garlic aoli again and homemade tomato ketchup (I would have prefered Heinz, sorry). Plus I had a massive side salad, which was well dressed and seasoned, and garlicky sprouts and greens. I must be one of the few people who actually likes sprouts, but I found the garlic didn’t work for me. The others had venison with a Gorgonzola dauphinoise (which sounded and was in fact, delicious) and steak and chips with plentiful Bearnaise and watercress. For pud I shared a homemade cranberry ice cream (to die for, such a simple idea for Christmas, but i’ve never seen it on a menu anywhere else) and the others had warm chocolate brownies which they declared a bit dry. But overall it is a nice place and I would go there again. The lighting is excellent and flattering (crucial, isn’t it?) and the decor subtle but fun with the framed pictures of “dead drunks” (Oliver Reed, George Best etc) wittily hung next to framed wine bottles.
So I thought I’d do you a restaurant review for this post, instead of a recipe, if that’s OK? Good value and a great night out. I’m off the booze for the moment as it gives me a heachache/migraine. But for the others in my party, who are BIG wine buffs, they were in seventh heaven.