South London Gastro Pubs and Restaurants
I'm looking for a really good restaurant in South London: Clapham, Brixton or Battersea area would be ideal. I work in the wine business in New York and will be visiting and staying in Brixton. As far as I know all the best restaurants I've eaten at are north of the river. Can anyone suggest a place with good honest food and a great wine list? Preferably a list that leans towards small producers (maybe organic and biodynamic) from France.
Alternatively if you can suggest a great BYO that will solve the wine problem.
I think your best bet, specifically for food and wine combo south of the river is Ransome's at Ransome's Dock. Very sound, mostly English-style food, but very well sourced and prepared. But the wine list is magnificent. Martin Lam is a true oenophile and wines are chosen for their taste and interest rather than their label. Some biodynamic and organics on the list far as I remember. I'm at a wine and food evening there tonight - Contino and Cune tastings back to Vina Rara 1985, mmm - and will have a look then. Very well priced as well. They are on the South Bank of the river by Battersea Park - not too far from Brixton.
Upmarket from Ransome's is Bruce's on Wandsworth Common - the lunch menu is a real bargain, for some of the best cooking in London. Expensive at night, though. Sorry, can't help on the wine list there - I was taken and didn't get to see the list...
Otherwise, South London's a bit of a culinary desert except for ethnic food - Franklins on Lordship Lane in East Dulwich is pleasant and pretty good food (school of St John, sort of... short wine list). If you decide to go there, on the same road is a wine merchant called Green and Blue - some very interesting bottles, many of which are relatively unknown.
Interesting to hear of any other recommendations...
Thanks SpikeyD. Ransome's Dock sounds like a must. By the way I visited CUNE a few years ago; I do like thier Riojas. I've got the Vina Real Gran Reserva '84 and CVNE Imperial 1996 in the cellar. You must let me know how the '85 is showing right now.
I've always hoped that South London would step up on the culinary scene. One would think that cheaper rents and the gentrification of certain neighborhoods would draw some up-and-coming chefs and sommeliers.
We had the tasting dinner with both CVNE and Contino (their single estate) wines, tasting vintages back to a magnificent CUNE Gran Reserva 62 - absolutely stunning drink; I've never had a glass of wine with so many flavour overtones and extraordinary length. We drank it with some excellent English cheeses... But the really unexpected treat was a taste of a 1939 Vina Blanca... an off-dry wine - described by the winemaker as a "meditation wine". Marvellous story that the grape were left on the vines till December (no labour available after the Civil War), so they were picked late showing some botrytis. The wine was bottled but never shipped, and 3000 bottles were discovered in 1970 behind a brick wall. Apparently, the wine was undrinkable out of the bottle, but the then winemaker decanted the bottles into a vat for 24 hours, after which it apparently showed some promise... it was then "refreshed" with 20% of a 1971 vintage, and re-bottled. The results were really amazing - a pretty strong nose, decent length and legs, wonderful pale gold colour. Not a world class wine, but a wonderful tasting experience! The food was pretty good that night, as well... not sure I can accurately remember too much of it after 10 wines, though :)
You could also try the Greyhound, a gastropub (more gastro than pub) in Battersea High Street. Excellent and well-sourced English food and they are former wine merchants with a very interesting list. They have just started a wine club.