If you’re already familiar with Bottles wine bar in Spitalfields Market, you’ll already have high expectations of its second site, which has just opened across the river, in Chelsea. Specialising in sustainable, independent and organic producers, Bottles handpicks all of its wines, primarily from Italy, which can be enjoyed alongside a selection of small plates. Though Italy is where the main pickings of wine are from, the list extends to a world-wine selection, each bottle chosen for its unique profile.
Both a bar and a restaurant, the atmosphere in Bottles is very relaxed, with bar stalls lining the main bar, as well as a selection of tables in the restaurant. The style is slightly quirky; wooden vintage shelves are filled with wines from all over the world, entwined with plants, ferns and dried fruits. Large light bulbs hang from the ceiling and the turquoise front of the bar offers a lovely splash of colour against the rest of the furnishings, which are mostly white and copper.
Dining on a Saturday evening, I expected Bottles to be busier than it was but I think this is a place still yet to be discovered by the West London locals. I can imagine this being a great location for groups of friends or couples – it’s an ideal date night spot and the staff are very welcoming. That said, we spent most of the evening talking to the sommelier about the different wines on offer – something I doubt we would have been able to do had it been busier.
The menu is split into Bites, To Share, Pasta, Main Courses and Desserts but this is very much a sharing menu, as a dish from the ‘Main Courses’ wouldn’t quite suffice. On recommendation from the waitress, we chose Arancino Beccafico – their take on arancini, with pine nuts, wild fennel, raisins and anchovies, as well as the squid taco, with pineapple, coriander cress and friggitelli peppers. We also had the vegan ‘meatballs’, a mixture of lentils, sun-dried tomatoes and basil in a baked olive sauce. We enjoyed these with a glass of white wine, a Châteauneuf-du-Pape before moving onto a bottle of Chateau Lyonnat Lussac St. Emilion 2012 – a beautifully well-rounded red from Bordeaux.
With the pasta being freshly made, especially one as indulgent as the Truffle Tagliolini, we knew we had to try it. Arriving in a perfect coil, the fresh pasta was served with anchovy butter and freshly grated truffle. It was delicious, I just wanted more. We also tried their take on ‘Fish n’ Chips’, black cod with a french fries foam – nice – different – but a little underwhelming. Dessert was unfortunately very much the same, lacking any real flavour or the indulgence I expected.
In a nutshell:
First and foremost, Bottles is a wine bar; wine comes first, the food comes second. That’s not to say it isn’t tasty, but compared to the standard of wines on offer, it didn’t quite compare. If you like drinking wine and talking about wine, you won’t be disappointed spending an evening at Bottles. With over 100 bottles and a sommelier who is more than happy to share his wealth of knowledge, it’s certainly a place I will be returning to.