Diogenes The Dog
96 Rodney Road, SE17 1BG
WLC Rank : 96
Glass from : £ 5 (125 ml)
With the eye of his designer girlfriend, Paolina, Sunny Hodge transformed a former ‘national front affiliated boozer’ nearish to Elephant & Castle into a pared down, almost ecclesiastical coffee, tea and wine bar, where a small altar to wine rather than traditional bar counter peeps through plants trickling down exposed gutters and stirrup-like strict looking wine racks which he learned to weld together.
Formerly the assistant manager of Margot, though never forced to wear a bow tie, Hodge aims for pristine service minus formality. His wines, all of which are available by the glass and to take away, are an eccentric statement against identikit lists predominating elsewhere in the capital, which might take in sinewy, creamy Texan Malbec produced in the vicinity of Buddy Holly’s birthplace and an impeccable Solaris, as sweet as angels tears from Poland. Indeed, Eastern Europe strongly features. ‘There’s lot’s going on post Communism, but no one’s looking,’ he laments.
Don’t cross the hatch to the cellar expecting a flute of Grande Marque Champagne or fluffy Prosecco; instead, try the ‘insanely good’ family made Phermento Lambrusco or biodynamic Monmouthshire fizz from Ancre Hill. Similarly, anyone angling for a pale pink on a dewy spring day will instead have their hand held as they’re diverted into a crab apple scented orange wine fermented on its leaves from Moravia.
An isolated location, monastic décor and to the uninitiated, unfamiliar wine selection could see such a venue fail were it not for Hodge’s enthusiasm and the genuinely clean tasting wines he has collected, often acting as importer.
Come for Blues on Tuesday, incidentally, and be sure to indulge in a ‘Boozy Cheeseboard’ featuring Ubriaco Amarone, and ‘Drunken Meats’ such as cider n’ seaweed salami.
Why the name? Hodge, who also authored ‘Stray Pavements’, is prone to philosophical moments, and takes positive inspiration from father of cynicism, Diogenes. ‘Diogenes the Dog was one of the founders of the philosophy of Cynicism, and it is with this inquisitive nature we approach our wines.’
By Douglas Blyde.
Photos by Daniel Ogulewicz.