Author: Tom Cave
The reluctance of old to allow patrons to bring their own wines to a restaurant and pay a respectable “corkage” charge is gradually being chipped away as, perhaps due to the sheer number of good quality eateries in London, the canny restaurateur realises it is in fact a jolly good way to get bums on seats.
Still, there is an etiquette to be respected with corkage. It’s important to ask the house first and more than just polite to buy at least one wine off the restaurant’s own list. And it’s good form to offer the sommelier a glass.
The wine trade has of course been attracted to restaurants who are amenable to offering corkage and one such is the new, and very chic, dining room at the astute auction house of Bonhams where, at the encouragement of the urbane Richard Harvey MW who heads their thriving wine department, I dined mid-February.
The restaurant itself can be accessed via the Bonham’s showrooms or from Brook Street through the evocatively named Haunch of Venison Yard; one can almost see the 18th century bewhiskered butcher sharpening his knives over a deer’s carcass.
I took the precaution of delivering my chosen bottle, discreetly, earlier that day. This allows the wine to settle after travel and for the sommelier to decant and assess, and, should (groan) the bottle be corked, advise you of this sooner so a replacement can be made in good time.
The dining space at Bonhams is up a curl of stairs from what looked a congenial bar, sporting an Enomatic wine dispenser (always a good sign). Minimalist in décor, with some bright art-works on the walls, the environment is crisp and bright but by no means unwelcoming. As it happened, there was a solo diner already there who looked most at ease.
My companion and I elected mutually to take a glass of Hampshire’s Hambledon fizz while we perused the mercifully brief menu which featured a host of tempting dishes. Classic fare is the name of the game here: reassuringly there was fish to start, with red meat and game for mains… Continue Reading…