London wine bar adds European flavour

A new wine bar and restaurant in London is introducing a more European experience and pricing model to the UK capital.

The Quality Chop House restaurant area

The Quality Chop House, close to Exmouth Market, has housed a restaurant in its Grade Two listed building since 1869. This month it reopened in its new format under the joint management of Will Lander and Josie Stead, both of whom previously worked within the Mandarin Oriental group and carry strong family wine and restaurateuring pedigrees.

Lander, who also worked on the launch of the St John Hotel, said his experience working on other ventures “made me realise I wanted to do something myself.” The result is this project with Stead, who was previously general manager at Dinner by Heston Blumenthal in the Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park.

Divided into two connected rooms, The Quality Chop House features a wine bar serving smaller dishes on one side and a more traditional restaurant on the other.

With around 90 wines on the list, the selection combines a top end range of classic fine wines, supplied by Farr Vintners, with a more eclectic collection of cheaper options, which come from a variety of smaller specialist importers such as H2Vin, Indigo Wine and Aubert & Mascoli.

“Our inspiration is the enotecas and caves a vins in places like Paris, where you pay the retail price and then €8 to drink in,” explained Lander of the venue’s pricing model. “No one in London is doing it quite this way.”

The Quality Chop House wine bar

Admitting that this structure, which simply adds a £5 charge to the off-trade bottle price for on-trade consumption, makes some of the wines relatively expensive to take away, he stressed: “We’re looking to offer a great value place for people to drink in.”

At the cheaper end of the list, there has been a concerted effort to avoid predictable choices. With no sign of a Pinot Grigio, the £4-a-glass house white from Gaillac sets the tone.

The Quality Chop House also offers a “Collectors List” of more mature fine wines, which are provided from private cellars. There will also be a chance to try what Lander describes as “fun stuff”, with the first in this line up being a 1950 Banyuls, available by the glass for £20.

Although planning to make more interesting wines available by the glass once he feels there is the customer base to justify it, Lander described the set-up as being “anti carafes”, explaining: “It doesn’t marry with the retail pricing so well and anyway, the bottle is a good format that’s been tried and tested for a while now.”

In both the wine bar and restaurant a daily food menu is written up on blackboards. In the evening, the restaurant swaps its lunchtime à la carte selection of smaller dishes for a £35 four course set menu.

It took six months for the pair to find and secure the right site for their idea. “It was very competitive,” remarked Lander. “We’re living in a great age for restaurants.”


One Response to “London wine bar adds European flavour”

  1. Actually, Negozio Classica in Primrose Hill and in Notting Hill both offer this drinking in option on their carefully sourced, terroir-driven Italian wines. It’s a wine bar, it’s a restaurant, it’s a wine shop! Small and elegant, both locales are great for sitting down to enjoy the flavor of fine wine and delicious Tuscan cuisine.

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