Test Driving Bottle + Rye - a Parisian-style wine bar in the heart of Brixton

roomOutside Bottle + Rye. All of this is under cover as it's just in the entrance to the market, so there's no fear of rain stopping play here. 

What can you tell us about Bottle + Rye

This is the latest opening from Robin and Sarah Gill, best known for restaurants like Darby's, Bermondsey Larder, Sorella and the recently opened Maria G's. This time they've opened a wine bar in Brixton, an area which just happens to be where they've been living in London for years. They've said that this wine bar is inspired by the Parisian bar scene. 

Where is it?

Bottle + Rye has a great corner site on Coldharbour Lane, just at the entrance to Brixton Market (you'll find it opposite Le Bab). It's taken over what used to be two shops - they knocked the two together and created a brand new space. It looks lovely, the corner space means there's lots of light and it's impressively tall-ceilinged too. 

Given that it's brand new, it already feels right at home. The wooden bar, in particular, gives off some very olf school vibes and a little of that old Parisian feeling too. Only a few weeks in and it feels like it's been in this spot for a while. 

roomWhat was a couple of shops has been transformed into a bar that looks like it's been there for an age. Note the teeny kitchen space at the back. 

Where should we sit?

Inside, it's either a choice of tall tables by the bar (by the window is the best bet here, we think) but as it's at the entrance to the market, there are lots of tables outside that are completely covered. So while the weather is decent, these look like a lovely space to grab for a drink. 

So what about the food?

Created from the tiniest of kitchens, the menu changes regularly and is a combination of snacks, small plates and a few larger dishes - and everything can be shared. There's definitely a French vibe to it too. The menu itself is only available on the blackboard which you can see in the photo above, so if you're sitting outside you'll need to send someone in to get a snap of it. As you'd expect with a blackboard menu, it changes regularly - some dishes are tweaked with the seasons, others will be swapping in and out. 

Here's a taster of what's on there now:

roomSmoked eel brandade, pink fir crisps, Provencal herbs (£10) - yes this is an absolute carby must-have. 

roomPig's head brawn terrine, cornichons, baguette (£10) - a proper chunky terrine with loads of gorgeous jelly.

roomSunflower seed, pesto and courgette tart (£9) - you can probably tell from this just how thin the pastry was - a real veggie treat.

roomGreen bean, leek, hazelnut praline, vinaigrette (£10) - a vegetable feast that's enhanced by nuggets of that praline

room200g flat iron steak, frites, peppercorn sauce, salad (£20) - notably good value for steak and chips and that sauce changes regularly too (they've had Cashel Blue sauce in the past).

roomGooseberry and mirabelle choux eclair (£7) - essentially a tear and share choux bun (if there are two of you, you will be arguing over the last section). Extremely light choux and the filling changes regularly too - there's recently been a blackcurrant and fig version. 

Anything else to point out on the menu?

There are lots of options for vegetarians - a tomato salad, grilled corn and cafe de Paris butter among others on our visit - and for pescatarians we're also hearing good things about the anchovies on toast. 

What about drinks?

While wine is the key driver here, special mention should go to the cocktail list. All circa £12, there are some cracking drinks on there as you'd expect from any of the Gills' previous places. So we'd say it's definitely worth starting there (see below). The martini alone is worth crossing London for.

But it is a wine bar at heart, so the wine list is where you should be paying most of your attention. The list has been put together by Lewis Wright, who's worked with Robin Gill on multiple restaurants. Here, the focus is on minimal intervention wines from across Europe. It's a short one-pager list with a particularly good entry price of £5 for a 125ml Catarrato bianco from Sicily. Outside of that, the entry red is a Les Oliviers grenache from Rhone at £29.50 a bottle and £5.50 a glass while the bulk of the wines are under £50. We'd certainly recommend the Tradition Austrian field blend at £49 (and that also happens to be a litre bottle size). 

Generally though, ask for recommendations, and if its available by the glass (of which ten of the wines are), just as for a quick taster before going all in. 

roomOn the left is When Life Gives You Lemons (Koniks Tail vodka, Citadelle gin, lemon, olive oil, £12.50) and on the right is Mon Cherie (Plantation Rum, rye whiskey, cherry, chocolate, £12)

Overall thoughts 

This is a wine bar which we left instantly wishing we had something like it in our own neighbourhood - we're very jealous of Brixton. Open only a few weeks, it's already very buzzy, looks like its been there forever and has the same charming staff that you'll have encountered at all of Gill's restaurants. Pair that with a great menu being delivered from the tiniest of kitchens and this is an immediate winner - it's bound to be a big Brixton hit. 


More about Bottle + Rye

Where is it? Ground Floor, 404-406 Market Row, Brixton, London SW9 8LD

How to book: Book online

Find out more: Visit their website or follow them on Instagram @bottleandrye

Hot Dinners ate as guests of Bottle + Rye, prices are correct at the time of writing.


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