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.
Ara Wines has been at the forefront of the Kiwi wine movement to produce wines of greater subtlety and texture, mouthfeel and minerality, and generally greater food-friendliness. Until March 23, the Ara team is working with this restaurant in offering a range of its wines by the glass to showcase how well these Marlborough wines pair with food, but also to encourage you to think outside the box. Ask the sommelier to match a dish with an appropriate Ara wine and send your review of the match to [email protected] and you could be in with the chance to win a meal for two at the Michelin-starred Pied à Terre in Fitzrovia.
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