Close Menu

Wine List Confidential: OMA

Douglas Blyde gets himself to the Greek with a visit to OMA in Borough Market. Sipping his way through some of the 500 bin-strong wine list, he finds plenty of value, as well as some truly “gastronomic” Hellenic rosé.

“I have just been swept off my feet by a standout, hands down, pants off, run around screaming, slam-dunk best-of-the-year-so-far joint in central London, where I ate so well it damn near blew my head off,” praised Giles Coren, subtly, of OMA in The Times, while The Guardian’s Grace Dent perhaps unconstructively wrote, “If you don’t know your ‘wildfarmed laffa’ from your spanakopita gratin with malawach, or your giouvetsi beef-fat pangrattato from your mussel saganaki with tsalafouti, then this will be, literally, all Greek to you.”


As per Smokestak and Manteca which are under the same mantel of Barbados born and raised operator, David Carter, OMA’s interiors, and those of the no reservations Agora souvla bar below, have been refined by Box 9. Of the scheme, reached via stone stairs from Borough Market’s Bedale Street, so-called because it long offered beds and ales, the designer notes, “We moved stairs, blasted huge openings through walls to connect and create incredible market cross views.” The result, diagonal to the busy railway viaduct, and opposite the entrance to the location of Bridget Jones’ flat, is barely relatable to the previous iteration of the Mars-owned Hotel Chocolat.

Although Wiktionary tells a different story, OMA, according to the press release, draws its name from the Greek for “raw”. Hence, the seafood station, spanning the length of around eight and a half wine bottles, is a focal point. Beyond this is a fine-looking hearth on which fish landed in Cornwall, dry-aged meat, and Cambridgeshire-grown vegetables meet the flame, while orzo-based hot pots are warmed in traditional Cretan pots.


Beyond an illustration of a figure of three shaped bay, the mighty wine folio is an impressive, mature, and, with around 75 wines of the nearly 500-bin-strong list priced at or under £50 a bottle, accessible endeavour. It is meticulously overseen by likable group wine buyer, Emily Acha Derrington, who undertook WSET qualifications “while working aboard a floating wine school.” She is assisted by head of wine, Alessandra Tasca. Formerly of The Dairy, Clapham (RIP) where she “fished” to work on the infamous Bloodshot midnight supperclubs, Tasca segued to Modal Wines, which is where she met Derrington who was the bookkeeper, followed by Derrington’s manteca, With limited prior knowledge of the extent of its wines, she has “become a Greek wine specialist in the last year.”

Wines are collected under headings, “influence of the sea” (coastal wines), “surrounded by the sea” (island wines), and “further inland” (vineyards amidst mountains, valleys, and rolling hills).

By the glass, options range from Vinicola Nulles Parabolic, a still collage of Macabeu, Xarel·lo, and Parellada 2022 (£5.50 per 125ml), to Domaine de Kalathas’ ungrafted “To Kokkinaki” from Tinos island (£18). In between, Valentina Passalacqua’s distinctively packaged Calcarius, a non-vintage orange Falanghina from Tasca’s home region of Puglia, is £8.50. By the bottle, a more earnest orange wine might be Gravner’s 2015 Ribolla Gialla (£210).

Roughly equal weighting is given to the countries of Greece and Italy, and their islands, followed by Spain and France. One chapter offers a “Spotlight on Xinomavro” including the mature 1998 from Ktima (£198) priced almost per its vintage. There is a catalogue of the Etna wines of “believer in the work of mother earth”, Frank Cornelissen, too, featuring the list’s most expensive bottle, Magma 2019 (£480). Victoria Torres Pecis’s old vine wines from the Canary Islands are also celebrated for their “mineral purity that evokes energy and complexity.” From outside Europe, a page is devoted to Storm Wines from Hemel-en-Aarde, Hermanus, likened to the “best Burgundy around.”

Derrington previously told the drinks business she believes “there is a lot of bad Bordeaux sold expensively”, hence with just seven references, OMA is not the terminus for those wishing to plunder the icons of the world’s largest fine wine region, despite its proximity to sandy beaches, and with remnants of starfish in its terroir. Nor is this a trove for the wines reaped of Chablis’ terroir of fingernail-sized fossilised oysters, with just one oblique reference, entitled Single Vineyard Vin de France NV, E & E Vocoret (£119). And instead of doffing a cap to big gun Champagnes, both the most hedonistic, and the cheapest fizzes come from Spain, with Raventos i Blanc’s Mas del Serral 2011 costing £280, while the crown-capped, Muscat-fragranced, Entre Vinyes Oníric pét-nat is yours for £45.

Two oddities pipped our radar concerning format, being the needless repetition of country of origin and region for every listing, and a general absence of capital letters.

In addition to wine, cocktails might include the batched, balanced Chios martini, starring dry mastiha.

Tasca is assisted by Fleur de Boer, formerly of London’s Renegade winery, which is where she co-produced a skin contact Madeleine Angevine, Sam Worsfold, previously of Story Cellar, and Lars Kidde-Hansen (Bermondsey Larder, RIP).


Dishes are overseen by David Carter, whose CV includes management roles at Four Seasons Los Angeles, Gordon Ramsay at Claridge’s (RIP) and at The Savoy Grill, and Roka Canary Wharf, before he founded Smokestak, then co-founded Manteca. The brigade also comprises, visibly present on our visit, Jorge Paredes, previously executive chef of Sabor.

While sipping Domaine Karanika’s flamboyantly-fragranced yet blotter dry of palate, talcum powder evoking Xinomavro Brut Cuvée Spéciale 2022, we considered the sharing menu comprising almost 30 options. This opened with luxurious labneh hollowed to capture depthful XO mingled with morsels of salt cod. This was best scooped with the fluffy doughnut-like açma beigel, which is freshly baked beyond a heavy curtain in the basement within the sound of the hand dryers of the very unisex loos.

Ensuing highlights included squid, double skewered, charred, and lavishly appointed with garlic, za’atar oil, and parsley. With this, Tasca proudly paired a rosé she “fell in love with”, its character emblematically “the opposite of Provence pink – which makes me happy.” Naoussa Rosé de Xinomavro Apostolos Thymiopoulos 2022 was an exceptional work, buoyant with ripe, squashed berry fruits and a supple dairy character. According to oenophile and educator Effi Tsournava (of Oeno Group), the wine is “the most gastronomic rosé one can find in Greece,” with, she added, older vintages being highly sought after.

Representing “a jump to Italy”, Tasca also excelled in her match of Frank Cornelissen’s skin contact, volcanic Munjebel Grecanico Dorato and Carricante IGP 2020 with tender clay pot-warmed wild red prawns, the meat of their hale tails conveniently revealed. Nourishingly, the orzo beneath had been spun in deep-fried prawn butter. The wine, evoking artisan cider vinegar with attitude, mined salinity from the dish.

Ever present, a teaspoon was helpful in getting at the split green sauce, alert with an olive oil richness which belied its light look, with textured, dry-aged Cornish lamb. Here, Tasca chose a cooled light red which could have passed for a bold rosé, being the aforementioned To Kokkinaki. We learnt its maker, Jerome Charles Binda, gave up graphic design at the age of 45 to work with the likes of Mavro Potamisi, Koumariano and Kondoura grape varieties on the wind-beaten Tinos in the Cyclades.

Last word

Simple-seeming dishes, often featuring an engaging, gently rising heat, including an unstoppable bowl of slender crisps, can have “a maverick quality” according to serial diner, Dino Joannides. Interestingly, although Agora below opened with a mere twelve bins on its list, its selection has since doubled in a matter of weeks, thanks, perhaps, to a sort of vinous waterfall of knowledge and enthusiasm spilling down from OMA’s engaged sommelier team upstairs. Tasca is in fact so enthusiastic about sharing her love for wine that she did that rare thing of returning to the restaurant floor for its “buzz” having tried her hand at being a “business development manager.” She has even been known to come in on days off to ensure guests will savour the journey of discovery offered by OMA’s remarkable list…

Best for

  • Singular winemakers
  • Nautically influenced vineyards
  • Rosés which reach beyond the pale
  • Impeccably-sourced fish

Value: 98, Size: 95, Range: 95, Originality: 99, Experience: 96.5; Total: 96.7

OMA – 2-4 Bedale Street, SE1 9AL, London; t. 020 8129 6760;;

It looks like you're in Asia, would you like to be redirected to the Drinks Business Asia edition?

Yes, take me to the Asia edition No