Between Covent Garden and the Thames, down Villiers St off the historic Strand awaits Gordon’s Wine Bar. This is London’s oldest wine bar and must be one of the world’s best. Visiting Gordon’s is a unique experience of London’s history. Before becoming a wine bar in 1890, the building was home to Samuel Pepys and also an illustrious brothel or two. Outside, in Villiers St, the building now has the appearance of a deserted and condemned old building from Dickensian London and is often unrecognised by the most dedicated visitors. The only clue is the dusty original gas-lit lamp above the door, labelled “Gordon’s Wine Bar”. Take the narrow steps down into the unlikely darkness.
The bar has the appearance and feel of a dark basement untouched since Pepys left. Nicotine stained walls of tongue-n-groove boards, history-stained stone floors, and rickety tables and chairs under the low, brick-domed ceiling of the original wine cellars are not retro but original features. Candles light the reticent faces of illicit encounters. The staff are efficient and friendly and pull schooners and beakers of sherry, Madeiras, or port from the barrels stacked behind the bar. Excellent wines are also available by bottle or glass. Recently homemade food has been introduced, and the tables spill out into Watergate Walk to the side. But stay indoors to enjoy the uniqueness and excellence of Gordon’s Wine Bar, and drink deep the history of London.
Wine tasting on your doorstep in London. This fun night at cosy 'local' pub The Alma, is held approximately once a month on a Wednesday evening. Enjoy tutorials for different tastes and vintages from around the world, plus a selection of complimentary nibbles to stop you getting too drunk!
There are just 10 places per evening (book in advance!) so it feels pleasantly intimate - and you really do get to learn about what you're drinking.
All in all, a great, unusual night out in London.
Newington Green Road (North London - Canonbury or Highbury & Islington)
Situated just off Haymarket, Mint Leaf serves seriously good Indian food. It'd definitely in the same category as some of the more celebrated options like Veeraswamy and Tamarind. Get a mix of main courses to share to make the most of the experience – a combination of chicken curry, lamb stew, pulao rice, bread basket, yellow lentils and aloo will certainly not disappoint.
J Sheekey has long been part of London’s eating scene - it dates back as far as 1896. However, it's only since its relaunch by the people behind the Ivy that it's really been worth a visit. The freshness and availability of all Sheekey’s ingredients mean they have no restaurant set menu; instead, a wonderful selection of dishes of the day served by some of the friendliest, most knowledgeable staff you could wish for. It's definitely worth booking as far in advance as you possibly can.
For a great dining experience on the Thames in East London, not far from the City, try visiting the Shad Thames area and Pont de la Tour. Great seafood, wine and atmosphere overlooking Tower Bridge. They have both a relaxed bistro and a more formal dining room for business dinners.
The Butlers Wharf Building
36d Shad Thames
London SE1 2YE
Tel: 020 7403 8403
A lovely restaurant just off Soho Square.
Very precise cooking and fantastic flavours.
Arbutus also offers the chance to try any wine (sub 100 pounds) in a 250ml carafe.
The best thing is that, while main courses cost about £15, the set lunch is only £15.50 for three courses.
Staff are young and friendly and you can sit at the bar to eat if you don't want to sit at a table. Ask for seats near the window - it is quite gloomy at the back of the restaurant.
Sample an outstandingly fresh selection of authentic and contemporary dishes, those borne out of a visit to a morning market stall in Hanoi right through to dishes found at Ho Chi Minh City’s swankiest restaurant: La Vong grilled fish from Hanoi’s finest, Hanoi Dumpling from the Imperial Capital and Camfire Sirloin Steak from Saigon’s busiest restaurant.
To accompany your food select from the amazing wines hand picked by wine critic Malcolm Gluck then sit back and enjoy an exquistite meal in a uniquely relaxed environment.
301 Old Street
Tel: 020 7729 8662
Tube: Old Street
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