Selected Wine Bars
Twenty-five years or so ago, British wine bars began changing, transforming nicely from grotty, smoke-filled caverns like El Vino’s and various old-guard chain operations into something quieter, less scruffy and men’s-clubby, with reasonably cheap and cheerful food—some even featured salads and fresh vegetables, formerly uncharted territory for the then-stalwarts of the wine trade. These new premises were independent and informal, and the wine lists often featured gems from off the beaten track: In short, a blessing. Then, somehow, they just faded away. Some skewed off into their owners’ eccentricities, some were sideswiped by the gastropub idea, some just got ideas above their station. Whatever the reason, there was certainly an unfortunate hiatus.
Now that lapse is ending, helped along by Enomatic wine servers and enthusiastic wine lovers with, at last, entrepreneurial skills to match. Terroirs was the first of the new breed, fittingly taking over a rundown branch of Davy’s; nearby, Bedford & Strand set up a well-run operation. In Notting Hill, the Kensington Wine Rooms gave the concept some polish. Vintoteca offers very good food as well as wine, and Camino does the right thing by Sherry and tapas.