Bottles Chelsea: Come For The Wine, Stay For The Smoked Butter Pasta
Like their first, Spitalfields location, the new Bottles wine bar in Chelsea is a straightforward thing done with a tonne of finesse.
It follows broadly the same model as Spitalfields: Italian wines, seasonal food, interiors that could work equally well for sprawling group dinners around the long central table, aperitivi perched at the bar, or cosy date nights. The location makes quite a big difference, though — the first bar's in a spot where a busy, tourist-magnet market meets a busy business area, while the Chelsea bar's on quietly expensive Draycott Avenue, where foot traffic's limited. On a weekday evening (though tbf, a January Monday) it's nearly empty.
The Bottles wine list spans nicely from '(just about) affordable and very worth it' by the glass options to some far pricier, oenophile-only bottles — and like the Spitalfields bar, recommendations from the staff at Bottles Chelsea come with accessible descriptions, zero upselling and a lot of enthusiasm.
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The food menu talks an equally inviting game, though with some less inviting prices attached. Pasta dishes could do with being about 2/3 the price or 4/3 the size — at around £18-£20 for a primi portion, it feels disproportionate to the bar's relaxed vibe and (relatively) democratic approach to wine pricing. But both pasta dishes we order are brilliant, delicate and a real test of friendship to have to share. The agnolotti dish is hard enough to surrender half of — small meaty parcels studded with romanesco broccoli, tuna bottarga, and almond and lemon sauce; genuinely proud that we're still on speaking terms after the smoked butter fusilloni, a softly wintry thing of beauty studded with chunks of langoustine and king oyster mushrooms.
Unless you're deep of pocket, Bottles is best kept for a gentle aperitivo after work rather than a full-blown dinner destination. But while it might not be the place you schlepp across London for an evening at, it's the bar (and pasta menu) you'd be really pleased to have land in your neighbourhood.
Bottles, 100 Draycott Avenue, SW3 3AD.
Last Updated 27 January 2020