Newly opened, Bar Battu claims to be 'the city's first natural wine bar' but has already been criticised for trying to steal that title from WC2 hotspot Terroirs. Huddled amongst the buildings on Gresham Street, the bar's downstairs area is a typical chrome and brick job that's peppered with Belgian film posters, whilst their first floor looks like a collision between an Aberdeen Angus Steakhouse and a country tearoom.
Their wine list is purely European and its many bottles are classified by a fun picture system that indicates body, cloudiness and wildness - with wild signifying anything particuarly pungent or challenging. Unfortunately their single glasses aren't labelled in the same way, so you'll have to do a lot of cross referencing with the main list to know what you're getting yourself into. We started with a 'semi wild' Macon-Villages, as recommended by the bar's blackboard, and although it did indeed have a natural pungency and fuzziness it wasn't overly memorable. Although nothing we went on to try was any more inspiring, the fact that they serve wine by the carafe makes it easy to sample a range with friends and prices are in fact relatively friendly: a glass will be upwards of £3.50 and bottles start at £14.
We honestly can't comment on the food, as we arrived after 9pm and their kitchen was closed. Given the work ethic of many city-based chaps this came as a surprise, particularly as their smaller bar menu (consisting of cheese and charcuterie) would be perfect for a late night snack. In any case, if you do get there in time you'll be able to select from bistrot-style mains and smaller plates that range from snail and ox cheek ragout to a Frenchified bangers and mash.
Overall, it's obvious that the people behind this venue do have a passion for natural wine and that they've tried to make the bar a welcoming, trendy place in which people can experience it. Unfortunately, however, it's hard not to think that Terroirs has battu them to it.
Bar Battu, 48 Gresham Street, EC2V 7A.