We fell in love with Mr Lawrence as soon as we walked through the door. Well, not Mr Lawrence himself, although the jovial owner is a welcome sight behind the wood-topped bar, but rather with the cabinet reclining beside him, which seductively flashed a selection of mini Montezuma chocolate bars from behind its glass pane. These weren’t the only pleasant surprise, either, as an exploration of the bar revealed comfy armchairs, back issues of Country Life and even a secluded patio area hidden at the rear. Clearly the normal atmosphere of Brockley Road stops at the door, behind which you'll encounter a cosy, relaxed oasis which was shockingly empty when we visited on a sunny Wednesday evening.
The wine list is not the biggest we’ve ever seen but still provides an interesting selection of both old and new world produce, as well as an ample organic wine list which even includes an English white from Horsmonden. More importantly, all of these wines are available by the glass and, as around half are imported by the bar themselves there's a good chance you'll find anything you like in their neighbouring off-license afterwards. What made us really happy, however, were the prices, which seemed almost obscenely reasonable for somewhere only 10 minutes from London Bridge.
We started off with a Puligny Montrachet, an elegant Burgundian wine that’s always a pleasure to drink and is never usually sold in London for less than £55. Having paid just £39 for our eminently enjoyable bottle we happily explored the rest of the menu, all of which is priced between £3-£9.90 per glass (with most under £4) or up to £39 per bottle. Everything we tried was drinkable and even the house red, which can sometimes be a cause for concern, tasted fairly pleasant. Although most champagnes are only available by the bottle (quel domage..) a glass of house bubbles will set you back just £6 and delivers a body and taste which are often missing from house fizz.
There is also a wide range of beer, particularly Belgian, for those with an aversion to grape juice, and a small selection of food such as soup, charcuterie or hearty cassoulets available if you don’t feel like pigging out on chocolate. Although Mr Lawrence isn’t the place to go if you’re looking for big vintages with which to impress, it’s a fantastic little wine bar in an unexpected spot which more than merits the ten minute train ride away from the bustle of central London.
Mr Lawrence Wine Merchant is at 391 Brockley Road, London SE4 2PH.