44-46 Cranbourn Street (entrance also on Bear St) , Leicester Square, London, WC2H 7AN, United Kingdom
Tel: +44 (0)20 7734 7807
Website: View bar's website
Hours: Mon-Sat 11am-11:30pm; Sun noon-10:30pm
Door: Go early
Style: Wine bar
Recommended for: Food, Romantic, Wi-Fi, Wine
Price guide: Middling
Food: Full menu
Owned by: Don Hewitson
Both of the entrances to this long established oenophile's cellar appear more like fire escapes, made noticeable by a drab window displays of faded bottles and a barrel on the street - think Amsterdam Red Light district doorway rather than one of London's oldest and most respected wine bars. It works - the undiscerning walk on by to the mass market venues surrounding Leicester Square.
Descend either spiral staircase into two small cellar rooms extended by coalhole tunnels. The utilitarian decor with its khaki green and mustard yellow painted walls covered with framed old wine advertisement posters resembles a rustic French café, complete with wooden chairs and round tables upon a quarry tile floor.
New Zealander Don Hewitson established this bolt hole in 1971 and the extensive wine list with its honest and informative tasting notes is the work of a genuine wine lover. Wines are very reasonably priced with fabulous bins ranging from just over the £20 mark, right up to £130 for those with the pocket to match the aspirations of their palate. A selection of 25 wines by the glass allows experimentation.
Mediterranean dishes sit alongside British staples such as Shepherd's pie on a something for everyone straightforward menu.