20 August 2014

Sager & Wildeone star

193 Hackney Road, London E2 8JL

Bars Bethnal Green, Shoreditch
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  • Wine: £36.00
  • Champagne: £74.00
  • Opening Hours: Mon-Fri 5pm-12M Sat-Sun 12N-12M

Square Meal Review of Sager & Wilde ?

Encouraged by the success of their wine-driven pop-up in Shoreditch, Michael and Charlotte Sager-Wilde have gone permanent with this venture in a one-time East End boozer. Wooden blinds, subtle retro-industrial lights and architectural salvage are used to create a stylish den for design-literate oenophiles – check out the bar counter made from Victorian cast iron and glass-brick pavement insets. To drink, anticipate a daily line-up of top-notch bin ends and unusual appellations available by the bottle or glass. Prices start at £27.50 for a Sicilian Perricone red to accompany Italian charcuterie platters, while £6 gets a glass of good-to-find Txakoli de Getari by Bodegas Rezabal – a complex Spanish Basque white that cries out for one of the owners’ signature cheese toasties. A trio of craft beers also puts in an appearance, but Sager & Wilde is really all about enjoying fine wine.

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  1. Published : Monday, 20th January 2014

    Sybaricious :: Sager & Wilde

    Anyone who knows me will tell you that I have what could be described as a 'slightly' irrational fear of East London. It all stems back to two incidents almost a decade ago, one where I was stupid enough to wear heels on New Year's Eve in Hoxton, sprained my ankle on the way there and spent the evening sat with my foot in a bucket of ice whilst people talked over my head and the second being a rather nasty "you're not cool enough to be here" type slur in a bar that shall remain nameless. The upshot was that I was left thinking, sod you East London, you're a devil to get to from South West London anyway and London's a big old place with plenty to do and see. It is therefore a rare gem that can attract me across the threshold of the Borough of Tower Hamlets and Sager & Wilde is that gem. Following a former acclaimed pop-up site,  Charlotte and Michael Sager- Wilde opened their eponymous wine bar in late August 2013 to a steady flow of positive press. Wine tasting buddies S, Z & A have been waxing lyrical about it for so long that I finally took a deep breath and headed East. Food is not the primary focus here but that didn't stop all the morsels that crossed our table from being excellent. It is more about the wine though. I would challenge anyone to find a more well rounded list of wines by the glass in London. Yes, there are places that do lots by the glass but you are usually fighting your way through a tide of mediocrity to dig out a winner. Here they are all good.  It is evident that each one has been selected with such care and attention that you're unlikely to ever pick a dud. The four of us decided early on that a definite strategy was required in working our way through the list without falling over.I kicked off with a fizzy number. A sparkling Surrey Brut Sugrue Pierre 2010 was an experience. It definitely lived up to its "Brut" label being mouth numbingly dry before bursting into ripe citrus juiciness. All in all not dissimilar to sherbet and a palate enlivening start to proceedings. Considering that Swig are currently retailing it for a rather hefty £49 a bottle, £8.50 a glass seemed very reasonable indeed and you can take all wines away from S&W for a tenner less than the bar price so in this case I could have taken it home for £37. Decanter gave it 97/100 if that's your preferred yardstick. The best adjective I could find to describe the Viognier from Francois Villard (Contours de Deponcins 2011) was 'pretty'. That doesn't seem like anywhere near an adequate enough description so I will try and elaborate. So fragrant with a nose and palate of white peaches and a little citrus zing followed by a  fairly lengthy aftertaste reminiscent of jasmine tea. There, is that better? It was a true glugger and on a summer's afternoon a bottle could easily disappear without pause for thought. Willi Schaefer's 2009 Riseling Kabinett from Graacher Himmelreich was a model of a beautifully made German Riesling. The classic, tell tale - petrol/vinyl/new carpet aroma was all there (it is a good thing honestly, just go with me on this one!) and the off dry sweetness partnered with a refreshing acidity just left you wanting more, and more, and more ad infinitum. The 2008 Corton Charlemagne Grand Cru from Domaine de Montille was sumptuous in its creaminess but boasted a chilled, refined, purity of fruit. A sure fire indicator of how much I like a wine in a restaurant is whether I try and buy it for myself and a quick scan of Wine Searcher left me disappointed as I couldn't find anywhere in the world stocking this in and only somewhere in France with the 2007 so if I want any I'm going to have to hot foot it back to S&W. Picture borrowed from S&W website as my pic was awful so copyright is theirs. Its usually lots more full. I'm at the table bottom right. Can't see me? I'm there!Wines that I didn't have a glass of but stole a gulp of included a very good indeed a 2004 Swartland GSM from Sequillo by Eben Sadie, a 2012 Macon from Uchizy Talmard and a 2005 Volnay from Domaine des Comtes Lafon. All were highly praised. The peak of my aforementioned 'strategy' was going to be a glass of 1998 Chateau d'Yquem, a snip at £14.50. Unfortunately the bottle was a bit of a dud (I felt just as bad for them as I did for me, how annoying to waste what should be such a lovely bottle) so I swapped my Yquem for a glass of Rioja Gran Reserva '890' by La Rioja Alta (1998).  Tasting very developed, it had moved distinctly through to secondary characters of leather and a lot of meat influences but there was certainly some life in the old dog yet and the classic characteristics of some dark cherries with a little spice thrown in were all still present. Smooth drinking but with elegant tannins, the Rioja turned out to be an excellent foil for a cheese board of Reblochon, Shropshire Blue and Comte all served with some surprising sweet but yummy cauliflower flatbreads and quince jelly.By the way, I'm absolutely NOT allowed to mention that the grilled cheese sandwiches are really both very gooey and delicious and very reasonably priced, apparently it would be best kept a secret so shhhhhhhhh! (sorry S).  Also on offer are various sliced charcuterie bits and bobs and olives/nuts etc. My only criticism of the whole place would be that the red list was quite Pinot Noir heavy on the day that I went but then again I'm totally aware that I'm a minority in not appreciating its subtle charms.   Oh, that and the hipster chap sat in the corner wearing a woollen, yellow hat that looked like a giant prophylactic which was a little disarming but that's East London for you....Look, I was even sober enough to take an in-focus photo on the way out (even if there is a weird blue bit in the shot.....)Will I go back? Wild horses couldn't stop me and I'm maybe even not scared of East London any more. I'm a little bit devastated that I didn't try the n'duja on toast though but all the more reason for an imminent return. Sager & Wilde193 Hackney Road, London. E2 8JL 
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  2. Published : Monday, 16th December 2013

    Gingle lists everything :: Sager and Wilde, 30th November

    I don't really want to play favourites with all of the places we went to on Saturday night as I had a great night and they all contributed to that. But let's just say I was forced to pick one... then Sager and Wilde would have to be it.We walked in and we just instantly hit it off. The place is rather 'bijou' but as we walked in, right in front of us, were two vacant seats at the bar. It was meant to be. And the smell of cheese almost overpowers you as you enter (though you quickly get used to it) - heaven. We'd already eaten so ignored the bites on offer although we greedily cast an eye over everyone else's and am happy to report the charcuterie and cheese looked lovely. I will most definitely go back for one of their famed toasties.But it was only the wine we were interested in. I knew that anything we chose would be good - that's what their known for, so it was just a matter of picking one I felt I could afford! I started off with a red and Stephen went for the unusual cherry wine. He had a sip and announced it bitter. I had a sip and pronounced it incredibly sweet. We both thought it was delicious though. The bartender came along and asked if we liked it - saying that it was a great combination of sour and sweet and thus ending our argument with us both being right for a change!I'd like to write more about the red wine I had other than that I really loved it but I'm writing this so long after the fact that I've rather forgotten exactly what it was like. Full-bodied and rich that's for sure. I can't even remember which one I had!After that I switched it up and had a white wine. This had a dry taste that hit the back of the throat, a bit like sherry with a pleasing heft to it, if that makes sense. In fact, Stephen had a fino sherry and the differences between them weren't all that discernible. Our bartender suggested some smoked almonds as a snack that he said would complement both wines, and considering how similar they were, that makes sense. However, I don't like almonds, and we had just had our dinner at Mr Buckley's so we stayed away from the bar snacks. As we sat more and more seats became free which surprised me. I hadn't expected to get in in the first place, let alone have a choice of seats. It may be because Hackney Road isn't much of a destination - people tend to get as far as Ye Olde Axe only when everywhere else has kicked them out (or maybe the Joiner's) and that's it. But waking further up is this little gem waiting to be discovered. Great atmosphere, classy surroundings, and friendly, knowledgeable staff. I really loved it. 
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