Slip on your Manolos and BYO Barolos
Good wines and good food: there are few activities more civilised than sharing a fine bottle or two over dinner. But whilst perusing a great restaurant wine list can be interesting, there are some occasions when we wish we could drink our own. Thankfully, more and more restaurants are coming round to the idea of enabling us to do precisely that. We're yet to follow the lead of China, where corkage charges have actually been made illegal (and there's a hotline you can call to denounce offenders!), and here many restaurants are happy to offer corkage at a price. However, since many of these policies are little publicised, we thought we'd do some research and see what's on offer at restaurants around us. We hope this will become a valuable resource and we invite all of you to submit additions and amendments - or subtractions - to the information below. Of course, if you're a restaurateur reading this and you'd like to be listed, please get in touch.
As an added bonus, we've arranged preferential corkage rates for Uncorked customers at the venues indicated below, but please inform them in advance if you wish to take advantage of this, and have your Uncorked receipt ready for inspection on attendance.
Charges vary wildly. We find ourselves very happy to pay the higher ones where the service on offer is done with grace and style - perhaps an offer of decanting and (especially) high quality stemware. Of course, many of the establishments with lower - or zero - charges won't stock expensive glasses, in which case - if you can handle the embarassment - there is a solution: take your own. Needless to say, Riedel have been catering for such an event for years: we present their BYO Carrying Bag. But be warned: the girlfriend of one of our number threatened to end their relationship if he dared to take his on a date! /NT
Preferential rates for Uncorked customers:
The Clove Club
Smart modern dining in the former Shoreditch Town Hall
Exclusive to Uncorked customers: £15 corkage (£30 for magnums) at dinner Mon-Wed and free corkage at lunchtime between Tuesday and Saturday. Shoreditch Town Hall, 380 Old St, EC1V 9LT, 020 7729 6496.
Stylish fine dining in a centuries-old setting
Exclusive to Uncorked customers: £10 corkage on Monday and Friday evenings (excluding February 14th and the month of December). The Courtyard, 20 St Swithin's Lane, EC4N 8AD, 020 7626 2606.
Galvin La Chapelle/Galvin Café à Vin/Galvin Bistrot de Luxe
Modern French cuisine
Exclusive to Uncorked customers: £15 corkage in any of the 3 venues. Galvin La Chapelle and Café à Vin, 35 Spital Sq, E1 6DY. Galvin Bistrot de Luxe, 65 Baker St, W1U 7DJ, 020 7935 4007.
Wright Brothers Spitalfields
Oyster bar with shellfish from their own Cornish oyster farm
Exclusive to Uncorked customers: £10 corkage. Wright Brothers Spitalfields, 8/9 Lamb St, Old Spitalfields Market, E1 6EA, 020 7377 8706.
Other corkage-friendly restaurants local to Uncorked, together with suggestions about what you might like to take:
8 Hoxton Square (Informal, inventive small plate modern cooking): £10 corkage. The address is the same as the name, N1 6NU, 020 7729 4232. Plenty of scope to match red or white, Burgundy would be a good call.
Adiva (Lebanese and Turkish Mezze and Grills): £1.50 corkage. 43 Commercial St, E1 6BD, 020 7247 7181. Take a warm, southern red, something from the lower half of Italy, or else the Rhone.
L'Anima (Classy, contemporary Italian): £25 corkage. 1 Snowden St, EC2A 2DQ, 020 7422 7000. Barolo or Barbaresco.
Bonnie Gull Seafood Bar (Excellent seafood bar): free corkage on Sundays. 55-57 Exmouth Market, EC1R 4QL, 020 3122 0047. Something from the Loire, red or white!
Cay Tre (Vietnamese): £10 corkage. 301 Old St, EC1V 9LA, 020 7729 8662. A Donnhoff Riesling or a Jurtschitsch Gruner Veltliner.
Chez Bruce (modern, classy, French-toned food): £5 corkage on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday nights. 2 Bellevue Road, Wandsworth Common, SW17 7EG, 0208 672 0114. Take something by Eben Sadie from South Africa to suit the modern character of the food.
Chillis (Bengali curry): free corkage. 76 Brick Lane, E1 6RL, 020 7247 7539. Grenache, so think Chateauneuf.
Fish Central (Possibly the best fish and chips in London): £10 corkage. 149-155 Central St, King Square, EC1V 8AP, 020 7253 4970. Champagne!
Foxlow (Steaks and more): £5 corkage on Tuesdays. 69-73 St John St, EC1M 4AN, 020 7014 8070. A big red here , probably a classic claret or something from the New World.
Hawksmoor (Steaks and burgers): £5 corkage on Mondays. 157a Commercial St, E1 6BJ (and other branches), 020 7426 4850. Big American Cabernets, Bordeaux, or a Rhone red.
The Jugged Hare (Gastro pub, spit roast meat and grill): £19 corkage. 49 Chiswell St, EC1Y 4SA, 020 7614 0134. Claret or red Burgundy.
Lyle's (Modern British): £15 corkage. 56 Shoreditch High St, E1 6JJ. For the autumn menu, best think Burgundy of either colour.
Le Mercury (French): £13 corkage. 140a Upper St, N1 1QY, 020 7354 4088. Any wine, so long as it's French!
Olives and Figs (Turkish Mezze and Grills): free corkage. 14 Artillery Passage, E1 7LJ, 020 7247 8680. Those warm, southern reds again.
Ottos (Classic French - for a real blow-out, call the day before for the pressed duck for 2): £15 corkage. 182 Gray's Inn Road, WC1X 8EW. It has to be red Burgundy.
Quality Chop House (A quintessentially British recreation of a [white collar] worker's canteen): corkage £15. 88-94 Farringdon Road London EC1R 3EA, 0207 278 1452. Seasonal British food for the omnivore, plenty of game as appropriate. Stronger on Bordeaux than Burgundy, so take your own Pinot Noir.
Rivington Grill (A seasonal menu of British classics): free corkage on Mondays. 28-30 Rivington St, EC2A 3DZ, 020 7729 7053. A fairly adaptable menu, but Burgundy of either colour probably covers more bases.
Rochelle Canteen (Modern British in the St John school of cookery): £5 corkage, but currently only open for lunch. Arnold Circus, E2 7ES, 020 7729 5677. Check the daily menu, but white Burgundy will often be the best bet.
St John Bread and Wine (Nose to tail eating): £15 corkage. 94-96 Commercial St, E1 6LZ, 020 7251 0848. Red Burgundy to go with the small plates of terrine and offal.
Seagrass (Modern British with plenty of seafood): free corkage. 74 Chapel Market, N1 9ER, 07902 015200. Chablis or white Burgundy.
Sedap (Malaysian-Chinese fusion): £5 corkage. 102 Old St, EC1V 9AY, 020 7490 0200. Aromatic whites here; anything by Zind Humbrecht.
Tayyabs (Punjabi curries and grills): free corkage. 83-89 Fieldgate St, E1 1JU, 020 7247 6400. Grenache again, so Chateauneuf.