Wine often features as a part of our meal when eating out, yet it is rarely the thing that influences our decision about where to dine. Somewhere along the line, we accepted that wine might feature as a mediocre, unmemorable part of the meal, enhancing only the final amount found on our bill. Over the last few years London has responded to this with a number of restaurants transforming the wine list into something of purpose and influence; something that sits alongside the food and the environment as a natural part of the dining experience.
10 Greek Street/ 8 Hoxton
Amongst a sea of changing faces, 10 Greek Street and 8 Hoxton possess the quiet confidence of being here to stay. Run and owned by restauranteur Luke Wilson and chef Cameron Emirali, the focus is on fresh, seasonal food cooked with a light touch. The wine list is much the same, and has some of the best value wines to be found in London that rarely stray above the £30 mark. Ask for the ‘Little Black Book’ for a hand written journey through some of the special, off menu wines.
The Quality Chop House
Previously a workers cafe dating back to 1869, and after exploring many alter egos, The Quality Chop House was restored to her former glory by restauranteur Will Lander. The space retains its original charm with black and white floor tiles and mahogany banquets, and the restaurant serves simply cooked food, with a leaning towards choice cuts of meat. Alongside their solid, core wine list, they often have a selection of special wines by the glass, including rare, fortified wines that date back to the 1930’s.
The quality of service and attention to detail found at Medlar, can be hard to find outside of traditional London establishments such as The Ivy and Rules. Medlar’s focus is on creating set menus that are an ode to modern French cuisine. Situated in South Kensington, they also harbour some of the best sommeliers in London, previously Clement Robert and now Christopher Delalonde, whose expert knowledge and excitement for wine are a delight to be on the receiving end of.
Sager + Wilde
Positioned half way up Hackney Road and flanked by a housing estate and a fish and chip shop, Sager & Wilde was responsible for starting a different type of conversation around wine when it opened a few years back. Technically a wine bar that also serves charcuterie and the best grilled cheese in town, the wine list explores anything from classic Burgundy to more obscure skin fermented wines, many of which are made available by the glass. The softly lit bar set against exposed brickwork and a thoughtfully curated playlist, make you never want to leave.
Childhood friends, Ed Wyand and Tom Bell opened their neighbourhood wine bar and restaurant in Clapton in 2014. The interiors draw on natural light and materials, with cool greys and Scandinavian inspired furniture, that contribute to the sense of calmness and grace that fills the space. The cheese and charcuterie selection is some of the best in London, and the thoughtful wine list balances the traditional and the more daring with a focus on smaller, artisanal producers. Don’t miss steak night every Tuesday which pulls in both locals and Londoners far and wide.
When Stephen Harris, former chef at the Sportsman in Seasalter, Kent decided to take residence at Noble Rot, London stood up and paid attention. Tucked along one of the most quaint streets in central London, Lambs Conduit Street, Noble Rot appropriately inhabits an old wine bar. The owners, Mark Andrew and Dan Keeling are also the talent behind the wine and lifestyle magazine that shares the same name, making it a sure destiny that Noble Rot would become one of the most exciting food and wine destinations in London.
Situated at the foot Netil House, a creative co-working space for new ventures on the edge of London Fields, the opening of Ellory has brought with it some of the best food and wine in East London. Chef, Matthew Young creates inventive, but timeless food often served in a tasting format that aims to offer more than two mouthfuls of joy with each course, whilst co-owner and sommelier Jack Lewens has curated a short selection wines that compliments the food in a gentle, non intimidating way.
Whilst Brawn started life in 2010 as a wine bar, and has changed ownership several times over the years, sometimes to the detriment of its quality, it is now in safe hands with owner and Chef, Ed Wilson. Formerly of Terroirs Group, Ed’s food has a generosity of spirit, flavour and honesty, whilst the wine list remains dedicated to the natural and biodynamic wines that have always lovingly decorated their list.