I actually didn’t visit Chiltern until all the hype and long waiting lists died down, but it was well worth the visit and now tables are normally available the week before you want to dine. Aside from the famous smaller plates like their crab doughnuts - the meat alone is worth going there for - the chef’s team have perfectly aged, melt in the mouth beef as their standard steaks.
In an A-list celeb hangout the wine lists can, and normally are eye wateringly expensive, Romain and the somm team consistently outperform with value options, and their by-the-glass house wines are always outstanding and well thought through. When you go further down the list for something recommended, the somms have always presented really amazing wines I haven’t heard of.
2. M Restaurant
M seem to be going strength to strength, and now with their Twickenham restaurant opening, rugby fans have a great option for lunch and dinner right next to the station. Still, the Victoria and City locations with their Raw vs Grill concept continue to attract the crowds.
For me this is because of the somm team and wine list. M have ensured service is at the core of their experience with the right levels of staffing per table as they guide you through a list which has safe everyday options for those who know what they want and also some twists and turns when you feel in the mood to try something new.
3. Noble Rot
It really is hard not to mention Mark Andrew’s foray into ‘wine with food’. Being a well-known and respected wine professional, his curated wine list is brilliantly delivered with everything from safe Pinot Grigio to crazy skin contact naturals. And not only that, the drinking/dining experience seems to deliver every time you go back. I never get bored of Noble Rot – this is one of the hardest things to achieve with wine lists and the overall feel when we dine out.
I love having business meetings here over a fresh burrata and a glass of their house Champagne.
Michael Sager-Wilde continues to sharpen the restaurant big sister version of his original wine bar. The food offering has seriously upped it’s game in the last year; I love the way you can just drink, nibble or go all out on a tasting menu in a setting that’s informal but takes itself seriously. The wine list is a favourite of mine, being a huge American wine fan myself - you have the option of everything from cult Napa wines to stars of the Loire, to all out vins naturels from across the globe. The somm team are not pushy, they are reactive not proactive to be help with the diverse knowledge set their customers have. Whether you are a Master of Wine or a hipster, there is joy in exploring the list here, visit after visit.
5. The Garrison
When I feel like a step down into less formal surroundings with friends, the Garrison has always been a winner for me. One of London’s flagship gastropubs, the kitchen is right in front of you in a bistro style setting, and inside and out it still manages the look and feel of a good old English pub. The wine list is diverse, varied but fresh as it continues to change. You also find more emerging producers and regions on a by-the-glass blackboard meaning you don’t have to drop money on a whole bottle if you fancy a foray into the unknown.
About Richard: A former banker and self-professed wine fanatic who recently launched Wanderlust Wine, an online wine merchant and new On Demand Wine service for Londoners www.wanderlustwine.co.uk