Discover the restaurants with the best wine lists in town, as Fiona Sims shares her top 10...
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- 1 Upper James Street, W1F 9DF
- 020 3145 1000
Around for a while but always doing something new and interesting, most recently embracing ‘off-peak pricing’. Prices can be as much as 25% below those on the regular menu, depending what time of the day or day of the week you eat, which makes the caviar menu just about affordable
Wine list: Known for its low margins on fine wine and Champagne (there’s a ‘Press for Champagne’ button at every table). In general it’s better to buy by the bottle, though you may not be able to resist Château d’Yquem by the glass.
- 7 Haunch of Venison Yard, W1K 5ES
- 020 7468 5868
You wouldn’t necessarily expect an auction house to have a Michelin-starred restaurant but then again, why not, given the number of wines that pass through its doors? Expect elegant, smart, slightly Scandi food, using the best ingredients. Marvellously central but note, it’s only open for lunch during the week.
Wine list: Regularly changing list depending on the small parcels that turn up at auction. At least 20 wines are always available by the glass, including a fine and rare selection of older vintages and icon wines. Definitely somewhere to splash out, though there are very reasonably priced bargains here too.
- 48 Gresham Street, EC2V 7AY
- 020 7600 1616
Any place that Master Sommelier Xavier Rousset pitches up is a restaurant that a wine lover needs to know about – particularly if you’re City of London-based. Cabotte is French to its fingertips, so expect traditional Gallic cooking and classic sauces that will flatter the mainly French wine list. Leave room for the tarte tatin for two!
Wine list: The 500-bin list is particularly strong on Burgundy, a passion of Rousset’s co-owner Gearoid Devaney MS. Some top wines are also available by the glass thanks to Coravin and there are a couple of tempting wine flights.
- 85 Piccadilly, W1J 7NB
- 020 7907 1888
The long-awaited return of the hugely talented Ollie Dabbous whose light, elegant food ensured tables were almost impossible to score at his previous eponymous restaurant. Choose from the fine dining tasting menu (at £95) in the first floor restaurant (called Above) or à la carte offerings in Ground – including a sublime onion and smoked eel soup. There’s even more casual eating in the Below bar downstairs too.
Wine list: The biggest in London, with 450 bottles on site, plus access to the massive list of 6,800 bins at Hedonism (Hide’s parent company), which can be delivered to the restaurant within 12 minutes, they claim. It’s not all big names either – you can explore the highways and byways of the wine world.
- 51 Pimlico Road, SW1W 8NE
- 020 7730 5712
One of London’s best-loved Chinese restaurants, Hunan has been on the radar of the city’s wine lovers since it was founded in 1982. There’s no menu here; you tell the team the sort of dishes you like and they feed you (you just have to hope they have the lobster noodles on). It’s best to go with at least three others.
Wine list: One of the most tantalising wine lists in London. Yes, there are the big guns from Bordeaux and Burgundy, but also some well-priced aromatic whites from Germany and Austria that make a great match with the lighter seafood dishes.
- 16 Cavendish Square, W1G 9DD
- 020 3141 6016
A chic British outpost of the Parisian original, the clever idea behind this restaurant is that each dish is paired with four wines at different price points. Smart, classically French cooking includes the fabled duck pie with foie gras and Rouennaise sauce.
Wine list: As well as the 110 wines that are available by the glass, there’s a 1,300 bottle wine list to choose from, many of which are supplied from the restaurant’s amazing wine cellar just outside Paris. The Champagne of the month, available at £10 a glass, is also a draw.
- 438 King’s Road, SW10 0LJ
- 020 7349 1900
The smart, seasonal modern British menu takes its influences from France to Japan, and always with wine in mind. While there are lighter dishes, the kitchen’s heart seems to lie in hearty fare like roast lamb with a tongue, portobello mushroom and reblochon cheese tartlet. They’re not above serving chips either, which are offered as a side with béarnaise sauce.
Wine list: West London isn’t the best place to drink well, but Medlar’s list, compiled by sommelier Didier Catelo (who did a vintage with Jean-Louis Chave), is a real gem, with some well-priced bottles from all over Europe as well as the big name French classics. Particularly strong on Riesling and the Rhône.
- 51 Lamb’s Conduit Street, WC1N 3NB
- 020 7242 8963
Probably London’s most talked-about wine bar right now, although truth be told it’s more of a restaurant with input from one of the country’s top chefs and cookery writers: award-winning Stephen Harris of The Sportsman in Seasalter. His turbot braised in aged Bâtard-Montrachet has been regularly on the French-inspired menu since it opened in 2015.
Wine list: An absolutely mouthwatering selection covering all parts of the globe and varied price-points, though it’s particularly strong around the £40-£60 mark. Pinot lovers will appreciate the section devoted to ‘The Heartbreak Grape’. The bar offers 75ml tasters.
- Tate Britain, SW1P 4JU
- 020 7887 8825
The stunning room with murals depicting ‘The Expedition in Pursuit of Rare Meats’ by artist Rex Whistler is quite unique. A fine place to enjoy a well-priced set lunch (two courses for £29.95), featuring modern British dishes such as the ‘nose to tail’ slow-cooked pigs’ cheek, 48-hour pork belly, black pudding and crispy ears. Note: bookings are only taken at lunchtime.
Wine list: No need to go with a lunch companion; absorb yourself reading the list, one of the most intelligent and well written in town. An impressive list of well-priced half bottles – particularly given that prices are inclusive of service.
- 277 Hackney Road, E2 8NA
- 020 7686 9535
Shoreditch and Hackney are the epicentre of all that’s cool on the London restaurant scene, but this cosy restaurant has the added appeal of a cracking wine list and takeaway wine shop. For the early part of the evening it specialises in small plates (don’t miss the Thai-style larb-stuffed olives) then it turns into a late-night Chinese – hugely popular, it turns out, with local chefs. Note: bookings are only taken in the evenings.
Wine list: As is the way in East London most of the 300-bin list is organic and biodynamic, but owner and front of house, Charlie Mellor, who used to work in wine retail, knows his stuff and will infallibly guide you to a bottle you will enjoy. Short but interesting list of by-the-glass choices.
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