11 Old Street, EC1V 9HL
WLC Rank : 25
Glass from : £ 4.50 (125 ml)
BEST FORRare “nature” wines
Imaginative cocktails on tap
Comforting but involving dishes
“It's beautiful to see people smashing rare bottles of natural wine whilst sharing pizzas and dishes from the grill,” says the deep co-founder, Michael Sager of the spacious Fare.
Michael Sager, who became a father during the lockdown, is pleased to have “grown Fare into the restaurant we always wanted.” He founded it with Chinon-raised, Marcis Dzelzainis who is also the beverage director of Sager + Wilde. “Marcus is the single best person I’ve worked with,” says Swiss Michael Sager. The duo met during Quo Vadis’ “third iteration” in 2009, when the bar was “meaningful”, and having worked together at Sager + Wilde, realised a large amaro and wine bar, full-scale restaurant, terrace and exacting coffee station in Fare on Old Street by “crowd-thinking rather than crowdfunding,” says Sager. It features stylistic signifiers from the first Sager + Wilde in Hackney, like glass pavement lights (albeit in the floor, not bar counter) with dark blinds obscuring the prep kitchen downstairs – as well as a large marble counter, open kitchen with grill, and coffee counter overseen by a world barista champion, “so we can do in coffee what we did in wine,” says Sager.
Formerly of Polpo, wines are overseen by Lorenzo Franzoia, who has a fine line in caps under which he conceals Biros. Franzoia has amassed a collection of what Sager, who is fuelled by several “spros” (i.e. espressos) daily, describes as “nature” wines. “It’s fanciful to use ‘natural’ when all wines should be natural anyway,” he reasons. “A reformulation of digital versus analogue,” adds Dzelzainis. Served in Jancis Robinson’s strong and stable stemware, picks may include Santa Maria Mondeuse from a former member of Sonoma’s Wind Gap, Jaimee Motley, a hand-painted magnum of Glòria Garriga’s orange Sumoll and Montonega from Penedes (Els Jelipins), and vital keg wines from intrepid Rupert Taylor at Uncharted Wine, of which Sager + Wilde is an investor. “We buy from people we like,” says Sager.
“All we can do is add a smile to a bottle, make sure it’s in the right condition and charge less to charge more,” says Sager of wine. Hence, there are also extremely competent cocktails by Dzelzainis who distils his own hydrosols. These are often available on tap ensuring a consistent and fast serve – Sager believes waiting for a drink “sucks” – including the Peach Americano, comprising Campari, RinQuinQuin liqueur, Merlet Peche, Carpano Classico, verjus and soda. It arrives free of garnish. “You don’t garnish a glass of wine,” reasons Dzelzainis.
Dishes are “comforting and homely – but that doesn’t mean boring,” says Dzelzainis. These include, from the prominent Cuppone oven, a bone marrow pizza with fior di latte, tomato and caramelised onions, the small plate of grilled octopus with cannellini beans, chilli and rosemary, and, from the grill, tagliolini cacio e pepe, perhaps with a side of radicchio, endive and baby gem.
“If we wanted, to make money, we would have opened steak joint,” says Dzelzainis. “But guests are smarter now, and we were pissed off spending £100 on meal when not worth it,” says Sager.
By Douglas Blyde.