Restaurant Reckoning: Gordon’s Wine Bar
I talk a lot about my struggle to become a real life grown-up type person. Lots of things about being a FULLY FUNCTIONING ADULT still pass me by. Six months has gone since I wrote this and I have only just discovered the right place to put fabric conditioner in the washing machine (and sweet holy mother of christing god does it make a difference. My towels feel like the way nightingale song sounds). However, one of the ways in which I know that my slow slog to fully comprehend maturity is getting there is by my ever evolving taste buds. Things that once made me wrinkle my nose up and shout ‘BLEGH’ now both tickle my fancy and amuse my bouche. Oysters pour example. Real ale is another. EGADS I even ate my first piece of Stilton recently. This was the one that really broke the mold. (HA! BROKE THE MOLD! GET IT? Cos Stilton has MOULD! Yeah well done me, I’m really happy with that one.) My palate seems to be going through some sort of elongated gastronomic puberty so I thought I would take it for a ride by paying a visit to the infamous Gordon’s Wine Bar.
Gordon’s is somewhat of a West-End establisment, claiming to be the oldest wine bar in London. The outdoors terrace snakes off Villiers Street and is marked by lines of green umbrellas and whacking great big dark barrels which have been fashioned into high tables on which people lean and natter, sup and quaff. Head indoors, down some steps you think you’ll break ya bleedin’ neck on, and you’re hit by a cave of a bar which looks endearingly like its interiors were designed by one of the subjects of Channel 4’s ‘Hoarders’. Old newspaper front pages, yellowing and tattered in their frames smile down at you, harking headlines from a bygone decade. Signs, notices, photographs, chipped mirrors all hang side by side. Behind the bar are bottles and bottles and barrels and barrels of wine. So much wine. Guys, they have a huge amount of wine here. All of the the kinds of wine are here. The wine list is nearly as thick as the Edfringe guide. THINK OF ALL THOSE DEAD GRAPES. I mean, I’ll be honest, if you don’t like wine, it’s mayyyyybe not the right place for you.
However I’m partial to a glass or four of the ruby stuff, so armed with a glass of winking red we made our way to the FOOD. One of the things that nearly knocks you off those aforementioned teetering steps into this place is the whiff of cheese. It attacks your nostrils in a pleasantly abrasive way. It’s puzzling. Your brain says, ‘This pongs like Fungus the Bogeyman’s sock after an afternoon of Year 9 rounders’ yet stomach insists, ‘Yeah, but shhh brain because CAMEMBERT.’ The cheese selection is of goodly size, with old favourites and some new surprises happily rubbing shoulders. £9.50 will get you two whacking great slabs of cheese of your choice, a huge hunk of bread and a good go on the salad bar. There’s also a nice chap with twinkly eyes who wields a cheese wire like he’s about to do a Fred Astaire number with it who makes the whole experience doubly pleasant.
All the cheese was swell. Creamy, punchy, tangy with sweet and crunchy pickles and jellies- all the things good cheese should be. And Gordon and his crew are NOT STINGY with their wares. I could have taken someone out if I’d have lobbed my hunk of smoked cheddar at them. It was like eating a really delicious brick. The bread was nothing wildly exciting, just a standard white baguette, but to a woman who shuns carbs 99% of the time in a vague attempt to control my hips (cos guys, these hips do not lie. They tell the god’s honest truth.) it was like sweet yeasty nectar. If I ever write a love song, I will probably dedicate it to Hovis. However, this was not the place for a sourdough worthy of Berry and Hollywood, the bread was more an ensemble member of the cast of this plate, providing support for the leading man and lady which were undoubtedly the big cheeses.
Dusk fell and laughter rose as another glass was emptied and ties were loosened all along the terrace. I can thoroughly recommend Gordon’s for a cheeky supper and a couple of glasses of a weekday evening. A rustic feel that has the notion of being unashamedly decadent all at the same time. Good on ya Gordon.
For the 411 on Gordon’s check here:
Gordon’s Wine Bar
47 Villiers Street
Tel: 020 7930 1408
Nearest tube: Embankment