Cork & Bottle

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Wine bars have come full circle since this old faithful opened in a blink-&-you’ll-miss-it basement next to a sex shop. Back then, Britain begged for Blue Nun, spag bol & Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep on Radio 1. At the Cork & Bottle, the staff are chirpy enough but thanks to inflation, shepherd’s pie, Caesar salad, fishcakes & sirloin steak are no longer as cheap as we’d like – even if £9.50 still represents good value for unctuous cheese & ham pie. The wine list really is ‘the bee’s knees’, with bags of interest to suit all budgets: sample a refreshing rosé from the Loire Valley at £20.95, or trade up to an irreproachable 1986 Château Grand-Puy-Lacoste. In all, this place remains a cosy & timeless time warp amid the detritus & touristy tack of Leicester Square.


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