palate cleanser

Bar Crispin

Soho, W1B

Spitalfields’ natural wine wunderkind Crispin has opened a new outpost in Soho. Occupying a tiny space on lively Kingly Street (next to the Ain’t Nothin’ But blues bar), Bar Crispin channels an 80s look with metallic tables and candle holders in geometric shapes. There’s an outdoor terrace and a separate ‘green room’ for parties and events.

Above the bar there’s a blackboard list of sulphite-free wines to try by the glass and separately, on paper, a more expansive list showcasing both old world and lesser-known indie producers. It was pleasing to see the list divided by climate type rather than patronising grape groupings like “fresh and fruity” or “strong and stable”. The staff, all attired in medical white jackets, appeared to know their way around the list well but perhaps a bit more training is needed (this visit was in its early days and sommelier Alex Price was on hand to help the staff).

In keeping with current trends, they also do Negronis and Vespers, each appearing to be pre-bottled during mise-en-place and kept in the freezer rather than prepared à la minute (of course there’s nothing wrong with that – pre-batching Negronis and Martinis is how I got through lockdown, and here the focus is natural wine, naturally).

Food-wise, small and perfectly formed plates are the order of the day under the direction of chef Brendan Lee. There was nothing really outstanding on this visit, but cured mackerel with a tomato salad was delightfully fresh and was accompanied beautifully by a £7 glass of Staffhelter Hof Magnus – a dry Riesling from Mosel, Germany. Equally, the Valli Unitei Marmotte from Italy complemented the coppa ham and Neal’s Yard Tunworth with its edge of pepper and cornichons. The beef tartare with horseradish and smoked egg yolk was rich and unctuous. There was little by way of dessert but a bowl of black garlic ice cream was welcome on a sweltering day.

A little poky perhaps and maybe some refinement is needed but Bar Crispin is a great addition to Kingly Street and London’s natural wine scene.

9 Kingly Street
Soho
London
W1B 5PY

August 2021

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