Vinostudia: Bargain Basement Buzz
Vinostudia // 38 Ulitsa Rubinshteina // Tel. 380 7838 // Open Sunday –Thursday 10 a.m to 2 a.m., Friday – Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 a.m. // Menu available in English // Dinner for two with alcohol 2706 rubles ($82.68)
Published: July 31, 2013 (Issue # 1771)
In a land where tastes run to vodka, “champagne,” and semisweet wines, serious vintages have had a hard time gaining a foothold among the general population. Vinostudia, a self-styled “gastrobar” is taking a stab at changing that and, if the crowds are any indication, is having some success. Unfortunately the wines on offer never rise much above the variety that can be found in most bodegas and supermarkets. But at least it’s a start and the concept is clear; a large selection of low-priced wines by the glass and a bit of food to go along with them.
Presenting a clean, almost Spartan, interior, the restaurant is pleasant enough although it relies a bit too heavily on Ikea for its design inspiration and so feels rather cheap and flimsy. The minimal black, beige and bare concrete palette, however, is a refreshing change from the over-the-top designs of many restaurants and provides a soothing, neutral background against which to focus on the food and wine.
On first entering we were intrigued by a banquette mounted high on the wall with tall tables and stools but after a few minutes of uncomfortably dangling feet decided to move one level down to one of the nearby tables.
It took a while for someone to offer a menu but the young, friendly staff, once they woke up, were pleasant and efficient. At least there was no lack of smiles and the fear that was evident on the server’s face at having to deal with a table of foreigners faded somewhat as the meal progressed.
A prossecco and raspberry cocktail (180 rubles, $5.50) was a light and refreshingly tart way to start the evening and so we enjoyed that while perusing the menu and wine list. The menu at first seems to be mostly small dishes to accompany the wine selection but does offer an assortment of heartier plates.
To accompany the violently magenta cocktail we ordered a selection of pintxos – Spanish tapas atop bread. We chose the roast beef (98 rubles, $2.99), goat cheese and sun dried tomato (90 rubles, $2.75), and smoked salmon (88 rubles, $2.69). For their size and complexity they seemed a bit overpriced but the bread was perfectly toasted and other than a canned black olive on top of the salmon, accompanied by appropriate garnishes such as horseradish for the roast beef and a drizzle of pesto oil under the goat cheese. A dish of fried potatoes and chanterelles (220 rubles, $6.72) was simple yet fresh and flavorful although the sour-cream filled ramekin that came with it seemed beside the point and not very well conceived.
Done with the cocktails we moved onto wine, selecting from the decent amount of wines available by the glass listed on blackboards dotted around the room. Trying to avoid the more prosaic offerings we settled on a 2012 Monte Tondo Mito Soave (190 rubles, $5.81) and a 2011 Maybach Riesling (140 rubles, $4.28). Both were served from bottles opened at the table leading us to wonder if they did this for every glass of wine they serve, and what became of all the nearly full bottles that must be stacking up behind the bar.
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