Monday, 22 August 2011

Albertine Wine Bar

I quite like Westfield London. Yes I know they’re a terrible company, responsible for the erosion of community and the prolific motorised urban sprawl of suburban Australia etc etc etc… but frankly I quite like the cinema, the eating options and Cos.

The branch of Pho in the food court is a highlight, Wahaca I generally enjoy (and the food court burrito place is good too) and Kitchen Italia is a decent concept despite average food and stingy portions. But sometimes it’s not enough.

And whilst I would never suggest Albertine as existing for the purpose of quality Westfield fodder, for me it is probably the best dining option in the immediate area. Albertine is a wine bar which predates Westfield by many years, and probably provides one of the most interesting places to eat and drink west of Notting Hill Gate.

It’s family owned and the staff are hugely passionate about the wines, offering tasters and happily downselling if they know a better option. I think many of them take buying trips and so really know their stock. As well as the predictable BBC crowd (but it’s true, I saw a pre-Christine Eamonn Holmes here) it has a loyal, local following.

The wine list is extensive and elaborate, strongly focused on France but with plenty from elsewhere too. Our organic Cuma malbec was delicious. They have loads by the glass too, but that wasn't an issue for us! And plenty of people were using it as a take home wine shop which is encouraging in these times of £4.99 average bottle spends.

The cheese board is a thing of local legend – colour coded depending on the animal of origin. Loads of choice and very high quality – and aesthetically destroyed by the time I remembered I should take a pic. £7 for the smallest selection, easily enough for two.

The other food here is also good – a lot of Mediterranean bar food but some bistro classic mains too, and a surprisingly good curry. We had a Spanish charcuterie plate (£7), choricitos (£3.50) and some homemade lemon hummus (£4).

So when you’re done with the Westfield chains or visiting a friend in Shepherds Bush, this might provide a left-field choice. And if you like cosy old fashioned wine bars (it’s not slick or modern by any means, nor does it try to be) then give it a go.

I’d say it’s similar in style to Le Beaujolais off Charing Cross Road, but with less cutesy ‘francois-erie’ and crap hanging from the ceiling. It’s discreet given its positioning and the locals must be very grateful for its existence against an assault of chicken shops, Asian fabric stores and shit pubs – so don’t tell everyone, or half of Chiswick will descend.

Food – 7/10
Drink – 8/10
Service - 8/10 (order at the bar, but very knowledgeable about the wines and tasters encouraged!)
Value – 9/10 (food very ressonable for the quality, plenty of wines under £20)
Tap water tales – 6/10 (on request, room temperature carafe provided) 
Staff Hotness – 8/10 (young, attractive and into their wines = hot)
Albertine Wine Bar on Urbanspoon

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