A serious wine list has become a pre-requisite for any restaurant or bar with the slightest aspirations of achieving credibility. The starting point seems to around 40 varietals, but it’s not uncommon to see restaurants with wine lists which look more like an encyclopaedia. The problem is that you also need an encyclopaedic knowledge of wine and most of the really good stuff is only available by the bottle, leaving us to keep to what we know for fear of spending a lot of money on a something we might not like. However, the Kensington Wine Rooms could be able to solve all of that with the launch of their new restaurant and bar.
Over fifty wines are dispensed by the glass by one of their five ‘Enomatic’ fridges. These fridges store the wines behind glass cases under a blanket of inert gas, allowing them to retain their flavour once they are opened. Customers serve themselves by simply inserting their pre-credited Winecard and pushing a button to select the size glass they’d like.
The great thing is that they even serve the wines in taster sizes, so you can spend a small amount to experiment first. For those who know what they want, they also have another 70-odd bins available by the bottle. Prices are really reasonable too, ranging from £3.70 for a 125ml glass of Cedar Grove Chenin Blanc, 2008, to £12.73 for a taster of first growth Bordeaux, 1999 Château Margaux. New wines are introduced every fortnight, so you can be sure that there will always be something new to sample.
They also have a tempting tapas menu (think grilled squid, jamón ibérico, spicy chorizo) and a proper restaurant area for those after something more substantial. Like the rest of the venue, the main menu is simple and designed to keep the focus on the wine. For starters, Crab cakes with smoked chilli jam & rocket salad and Pan fried chorizo with new potatoes & broad beans both got the taste buds tingling. My main dish of Rump steak was on the chewy side but full of flavour, whilst Greedy Glancy was far more successful with his plate of Tempura fish & chips. Pudding was a big plate of cheese and a couple of glasses of port.
We hear that the guys behind The Kensington Wine Rooms are looking to open a few more sites. If they are anything like this, I can’t wait!
Cuisine type: Modern European
Dinner for two: £50
Wine: plenty to choose from under £5
The Kensington Wine Rooms
127 – 129 Kensington Church Street
London, W8 7LP
Tel: 0207 727 8142