If you’ve read our previous explorations of London’s wine bars you’ll have probably noticed that they tend to be fairly continental in style. Whilst it’s undeniable that both our European cousins’ wines and their delightfully insouciant way of consuming them are worthy of our attention, this month we thought we’d investigate a bar which provides a welcome reminder of Britain’s own great viticultural tradition.
Well, that was the plan, anyway. What strikes you as you read the wine list at this long established Pimlico restaurant and bar is, however, the stupendous amount of cider available. Covering the whole of the first page, this phenomenal range of apple-y goodness (such as cider from the ever-excellent Biddenden vineyard) can be sampled by the pint or the jug (from £6.60) and, once tasted, will ensure that you eschew common brands such as Strongbow for the rest of your life.
When you’ve quaffed your way through that list - although do be careful, as they’re rather strong - you can turn your attention to the wines. Whilst their modest list does boast one popular English Ortega, it’s the selection of ‘country wines’ (£2.50 per 125ml) which is the real star of the show. Boasting everything from damson to elderflower and featuring rustic favourites such as mead, the collection can be savoured on its own or as an interesting accompaniment to food. In fact, with delicious liqueurs such as walnut also available, you might even want to make them part of the meal by pouring them over ice cream. (Trust us, it works.)
The restaurant part of the operation was a slight disappointment, as it seemed more school canteen than Rules. Whilst we were quite excited by their innovative range of pies, our ‘Poachers Pie’ (£13.50) contained an alarming amount of orange and came with what we can only assume was a ‘charcoal-style’ crust. Other options, such as calves' liver and bacon (£12.50) and apple and blackberry crumble (£4.50) fared much better, although it’s probably best to view the food as insulation against the excellent bar menu than a reason for going there in itself. The Chimes is, overall, a solid, reasonably priced neighbourhood restaurant that’s a must-visit if you want to sample a fantastic range of English country wines and ciders which are, sadly, exceedingly hard to find elsewhere in the capital.
Chimes English Restaurant & Wine Bar, 26 Churton Street, SW1V 2LP. 020 7821 7456