Compagnie Des Vins Surnaturels
Launched by the design-conscious Experimental Group – that’s the company behind Night Flight, Grand Pigalle Hotel, Beef Club and Ballroom in Paris – Compagnie Des Vins Surnaturels is a trés French-feeling wine bar in Neal’s Yard. With over 400 bottles of wine in stock, this is one for anyone feeling adventurous – CVS prides itself on selecting hard-to-find fine wines, which they pair alongside small plates such as truffle and quail’s egg croquet madams and octopus ceviche. Also on the menu is a selection of three or five French cheeses – we’re a massive fan of the ossau iraty.
8-10 Neal's Yard, Covent Garden, WC2H 9DP
Champagne + Fromage
Champagne + Fromage brings rustic fare and fizz to the capital, served the classic French way. Its three London bistros offer an authentic French menu and a vast selection of grower champagne. Menu highlights include tartines, charcuterie boards, baked cheeses and 50 varieties of cheese: find the one you like and pair it with a glass of your favourite fizz. For a fun afternoon with the girls, opt for the champagne tea, which includes bubbles, a tower of traditional macarons and a selection of different French cheeses.
Locations in Brixton, Greenwich and Covent Garden
Beginning life as a cheese stall run by owner Patricia, today La Fromagerie comprises three shops, a wholesale business and an award-winning book. The first shop in Highbury Park opened in 1992, followed by Marylebone in 2002. Our favourite of the trio – and the one we think is best for a date – is located on Lamb's Conduit Street. Launched in 2017, the space features the shops’ signature cheese room and tasting cafe. Dark and atmospheric, couples can choose from an array of cheeseboards, spanning French, Italian and British cheese. We’d just opt for a slab of the truffled brie alongside a bottle of red from their vast collection.
Locations in Marylebone, Bloomsbury and Highbury
We’re big fans of chef Leandro Carreira (formerly of Viajante, Lyle’s and Koya) so were pleased when he opened his very first restaurant at the end of 2017. Earlier this year, he launched a wine bar within the same building, which offers small-plate bar snacks to complement his modern Portuguese cooking in the main restaurant. Alongside oysters with samphire vinaigrette and a ‘Porto’ hotdog, guests can sip on a mean port and tonic and an extensive selection of wine. Make sure to sample a glass or two of vinho verde alongside a selection of five British and Irish cheeses and a range of Portuguese cold cuts.
36 Snowsfields, London Bridge, SE1 3SU
Provision is a cheese and wine shop on Holloway Road that specialises in wine made by small producers in Italy and France. While it’s a shop first and foremost, come the evening Provisions offers wines by the glass or (for a small corkage fee) one of the bottles of wine direct from the shelves. Alongside this, guests can tuck into cheese and charcuterie boards, which vary week on week. Fancy carrying on the party elsewhere? Purchase one of the shop’s refill bottles and you’ll be able to take home whichever selection of wine is on tap.
167 Holloway Road, Holloway, N7 8NA
Sager + Wilde
The team behind Sager + Wilde has a top-notch restaurant on Paradise Row in Bethnal Green and a romantic wine bar in Hackney. While the restaurant is one of our favourite places to eat pasta in the capital, for this particular feature we’re all about its bijou wine bar: its drinks list (by the glass and by the bottle) changes every day depending on what new sips the team are into we are into and which old cellars they’ve raided. Superlative cheese boards and toasties filled with British artisanal cheese and jalapeños, or chorizo and spinach, will help to line the stomach.
193 Hackney Road, Hoxton, E2 8JL
This Dalston newcomer is a neighbourhood restaurant focusing on vino. The menu features a weekly changing list of 36 wines, all available by the glass, while a 100-strong wine list will allow diners to choose a bottle, or glass via Coravin. Fresh for November is new Head Chef Eddie Harris (formerly of Chiltern Firehouse, Portland and The Laughing Heart) who has designed a selection of seasonal dishes – expect to see the likes of whipped cod's roe with puffed rice and seaweed; pig cheek, celeriac and green apple; gnocchi with butternut squash; and malt and pecan pie with creme fraiche. On the ‘larder’ section of the menu, you’ll find seven different cheeses that span a ewe’s milk pecorino from Sicily to a blue cheese from Totnes.
378 Kingsland Road, Dalston, E8 4AA
St John Bread & Wine
St John – the brains behind Fergus Henderson – has three restaurants, a bakery, a winery and a wine company. When it comes to pulling up a bar stool and tucking into cheese, we like St John Bread & Wine best. Menus at the bar change daily, but this season expect the likes of Eccles cake with Lancashire cheese, Innes log cheese with oatcakes and Welsh rarebit. While you’re able to bring in your own bottle (for a corkage fee) we really don’t see why you would as the team makes its own vast selection of extremely quaffable wines. We like the 2014 claret best.
94-96 Commercial Street, Shoreditch, E1 6LZ
A wine bar from the team behind Quo Vadis and Barrafina, The Drop is a 55-seat space that focuses on all things drinks. A point of difference from Spanish-inspired Barrafina and Mexican Casa Pastor over the street at the newly opened Coal Drops Yard, The Drop focuses on modern British plates – think exemplary terrines, cep pie, cheeseboards, rarebit and charcuterie – essentially, anything that goes well with a bottle of wine. Oyster fans should make a beeline the outdoor area, where an oyster cart will be a regular fixture. This is a place to try someone new – we recommend starting with an orange wine from the aperitif menu.
Coal Drops Yard, King’s Cross, N1C 4AB
This late-night spot in Hackney is a wine bar, restaurant and off-licence. In the kitchen head chef Tom Anglesea serves contemporary British cuisine, which draws inspiration from many parts of the world. Down in the wine cellar, the team supports artisan, organic farmers and caters for a range of tastes and budgets – when it comes to cheese, we always go for the morbier on digestive biscuits. We’re a big fan of the Cave, a candlelit private party space that serves oysters and steak alongside its wines. Come kicking-out time at 2am, guests can opt to grab one for the road from the well-stocked offie.
277 Hackney Road, Hackney E2 8NA