Open Mon–Sat 8.30am–11pm; Sun 10am–11pm
Formerly the Finborough Wine Bar, the Finborough Wine Café opened under new management two months ago. It still retains its wooden floors, exposed brick walls and candlelit tables but has been spruced up with leather sofas (which need a bit of wearing in) and a lick of paint (lights take the centre of painted flowers on the wall behind the bar). The new management team are young, enthusiastic and super helpful; there’s a lovely ambience, although my friend noted the Starbucks-style soundtrack.
Fortunately it’s not trying to become a catch-all-and-offer-everything venue; simple pastries, glass jars of flowering teas and baguettes are on show on one counter, indicating you can get a decent bite and coffee, but this isn’t a restaurant.
Like most of the bar goers, we combined our visit with a trip to the intimate theatre upstairs. A mixed age-group of culture vultures, plus the cast hung out at the bar post-play, plus there were two young French guys – dressed in cream chinos (yes, in February), suede brown loafers, large white cuffs on freshly ironed shirts and a jumper thrown over the shoulders with the sleeves perfectly knotted in front – who made us smile.
There isn’t a kitchen; only snacks are available– think pâté, cheeses and chunks of Serrano ham. However, there’s currently an offer of free pizza with an order of a bottle of wine (the pizza comes courtesy of next door’s Firezza), so we bought a bottle of Saint Clair Sauvignon Blanc 2010 (‘aromas of elderflower and passion fruit’ was aptly written on the menu; £21.50).
The smart wine cellar offers 50 boutique wines from around the world for sale (best price guaranteed) and tastings. The fantastic choice of wines, all from small growers and dedicated wine-makers, change monthly to suit the season. Staff clearly enjoy sharing their love of wine; I’m not a fan of red, but barman Atilla persuaded me to sample a light Beaujolais with my pizza – a good suggestion. Of the 50 wines, 30 are available by the wine and carafe and half the wines are priced below £10. There’s also a generous daily happy hour from midday to 7pm; £8 to try 12 wines. Not surprisingly, we left tipsy and with a bottle of wine in tow.