Stuck for ideas on where to take your new squeeze? Lost in the sea of choice that is London’s wine bars? Exhausted all other date night options? Don’t worry – we’ve got you covered.
While their outpost on Paradise Row is more of a restaurant, Sager + Wilde’s Hackney branch is the quintessential wine bar, through and through. The décor’s slick, the lighting conservative, and the blinds are thick – its surreptitiousness suggests it’s the kind of place extra marital couples would hang out. Or anyone trying to escape the usual post-work drinks on a Friday night.
What was once a food/drink magazine manifested into something quite different a few years ago. Headed up by the likes of now minor celebrity Stephen Harris (chef and owner of The Sportsman, if you’re still guessing), the Noble Rot ‘brand’ has got something of a cult status about it. At the wine bar and restaurant, everything from the food to the décor looks and feels classic. As for classics, perhaps Noble Rot is the making of one, too.
Though the wine list contains a dizzying 400-odd bins, a great many of which any cellarman would be proud of, a lot of people don’t come here just for the wine. The sharing and nibble-heavy menu stands up on its own, alongside even some good London restaurants. Expect to find dishes like crispy baby squid with espelette pepper, and venison bresaola with parmesan cream.
Terroirs, Covent Garden – This Covent Garden venue has all the ingredients for an excellent wine bar – a wide selection of traditionally made small batch wines, some of the best cheese and charcuterie you’re likely to find to go with it, and that ineffable atmosphere many other bars struggle to successfully cultivate.
Le Bar Du Club Gascon, Smithfield Market – Formerly known as Cellar Gascon, this Smithfield restaurant is the younger sibling to Pascal Aussignac’s Club Gascon and, as such, the food is as good as the wine. Not only that, but it’s got some of the best value tapas (or, as they prefer to call it, ‘frapas’ – French tapas) in London. Three course menus for £25? A small lunch and a glass of wine for under a tenner? Blimey.
Bedales, Borough Market – Bedales has been the go-to wine bar for City workers and market-goers for goodness knows how long. Especially considering its inclination towards Italian and French wines, it’s definitely got an old world feel about it, which does a lot of favours to its charm.
Gordon’s Wine Bar, Embankment – Speaking of charm, Gordon’s has it in buckets. A candlelit 19th century old basement of a place, with news clippings and dusty Champagne bottles adorning the walls. Chairs are rickety – in fact the whole place is a bit rickety – but anyone who’s been there will argue Gordon’s is all the better for it.
Victualler, Wapping – The old cobbled streets of Wapping are just the place for a sexy wine bar. Hours upon hours are easily spent here – the main bar surrounds the staff’s workspace, where you can watch and if curious enough, chat to, those prepping your charcuterie and pouring your glass of Chablis. Mercifully, non-wine geeks aren’t sneered at – tasters are offered for more esoteric wines, and beers like The Kernel are available for something a bit more local.