Down in the basement of Fortnum's in Piccadilly is a (not surprisingly) rather smart wine bar. I decided to try it out while recently catching up with a girlfriend. It was a Thursday evening and we arranged to meet in the store for a quick browse before heading downstairs for a drop of wine and something to eat. Fortnum's has a real charm – glamorous, daintily proportioned and stocked with countless luxuries and delicious treats. I am particularly fond of the wine department – budget permitting.
Once we were sitting comfortably in the sedate bar, manned by smooth, helpful staff, we ordered a delicious and versatile sounding flight of Chardonnay. As we weren't planning to drink much we requested a second set of glasses, so the wines could be shared between us. They each had quite distinct personalities, yet were stylish expressions of the variety: F & M Chablis 1er Cru Butteaux Vieilles Vignes 2008 (produced for Fortnum's by Domaine Louis Michel), F & M Upper Yarra 2009 Mac Forbes and Pegasus Bay 2007 (showing a lot more evolution than the others). This is one of a number of excellent looking flights of 3 x 125ml, some of which include real gems. Prices start at £12.50 for a rosé flight, rising to £18 for the white Burgundy flight. Our flight cost £16.50. Another tempting option is to select a bottle from the shop and pay £10 corkage, but the wine list does include an impressive selection by the bottle, carafe or glass.
We enjoyed some tapas-like dishes from the 'dégustation' menu. The various types of cured salmon (soya and ginger: especially good), cheese served with fig and almond wheel and a velouté of coco bean and white truffle (the empty cup in the picture!) were all top-notch, although the San Daniele ham could have been more finely sliced. These are priced individually or for a selection of four (£16). We concluded our meal with some Niepoort 10 year old tawny (£8 for 50cl).
If you're in the West End and fancy a smart bit of lunch or a stylish post-shopping or pre-theatre supper, 1707 would be difficult to beat – particularly in the run up to Christmas when the shop will be at its most twinkly. Highly recommended.
(Fortnum and Mason was founded in 1707.)
Fortnum & Mason
London W1A 1ER
Tel 0845 6025694