Hidden away amongst the high-end fashion boutiques of Chelsea – there's also an outlet in Old Spitalfields Market – Bottles is a relaxed, refreshing oasis of fine wine and Mediterranean flavours.
Step inside and the interior is light and modern. The turquoise-tiled bar, set against walls the colour of sun-bleached driftwood, evokes warm Sicilian beaches even on a rainy English night in February.
An enticing display of herbs, vegetables and cured meats in the corner hints at what the menu has in store, and the walls are lined by case upon case of fine wine bottles. Hence the name, I guess.
Whats the story?
Bottles, Draycott avenue, is the younger sister of the rustic, rock ’n’ roll wine bar of the same name in Old Spitalfields market. They stand out from the crowd with their focus on independent, organic wine producers, and a blend of authentic and modern regional Italian food.
What to order?
For those who know their Merlot from their Montepulciano, the wine list has abundant options from all over the peninsula.
If you are like us, though, and you panic a little bit if you don’t see a nice Malbec on the menu, the staff are happy to take responsibility for pairing wines with your food. Phew. We took this option out of necessity, but it is a real highlight of the experience, as the knowledgeable staff extol the virtues of each glass with enthusiasm.
Did I understand everything about how the salinity of the grapes come from the rolling coastal hills of Sardinia? No. was the wine better than anything I could have picked out? Definitely.
Hows the food?
Try some of the playful twists on classic Italian favourites. The Arancino is gooey and delicious and works well with additions of anchovy, pine nuts and fennel. The Spaghettone with Broccoli rabe and spicy breadcrumbs is light, fresh and easy on the eye. There are also oysters and octopus on the menu if the coastal vibe has you craving seafood.
Plus for an extra few quid there is the option to have black truffle any dish. As everyone knows, truffles are better than sex so you absolutely must do this whatever you order. OK maybe not if you get the oysters…
Will it bankrupt me?
Walking down Draycott Avenue past a fleet of luxury cars, including one of those criminally hideous Lamborghini 4x4s, we feared the worst, but were pleasantly surprised.
As ever with a long wine list, there’s the option to guzzle a month’s rent in a few hours, but with mains ranging from £18 Black Cod fish & Chips to £35 rib-eye steak, it is reasonable considering the quality and the locale.
Anything else to note?
The wine list also includes a selection of orange wines. This refers to the colour, as they are made with a process somewhere in between that of red and white. They contain no citrus (obviously, because wine made with orange juice would be disgusting).
Luckily, your correspondent has taken one for the team on this so you wont need to ask the same question, because, trust us, you will sound like a complete idiot.
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For more info, see Bottles