I have only recently plucked up courage to seriously explore restaurant wine lists beyond the first page of cheapies and house wines. I find them a mine field, especially when it comes to France. It seems to me that very few restaurant critics know what they are talking about when it comes to wine, and usually skip the subject, or pay lip service to it. Andrew Jefford is good in the Evening Standard, but doesn't always cover restaurant wine and is therefore a limited resource.
So two questions:
1)is there a reliable source of information about wines you are currently likely to find on restaurant lists
2) Any recommendations for restaurtants with good affordable lists or individual wines which are good bets?
Although he is an execrable writer, Tim Aitken in The Observer knows his wines and often comments on restaurant lists. It is a little hard gleaning the kernels from the chaff though.
For a truly spectacular bargain list of very special wines, head for the Tate Gallery Restaurant. The food is almost an afterthought, but they have wines on their list which will make you double take at the price ( in a good way )
Another place which has a real bargain list of good stuff is Andrew Edmunds in Soho. A few yards ( geographically ) and a million miles ( in a culinary sense - if the word culinary can be applied ) from the Soho branch of Wagamamma's
Like you, I veer away from many of the latter pages of the lists in the places I go
a) they are not very inventive
b) I still want to be able to pay my mortgage