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.
“Marcus is the single best person I worked with,” says Swiss Michael Sager of the Chinon-raised co-founder of Fare, Marcus Dzelzainis. The duo met during Quo Vadis’ “third iteration” in 2009, when the bar was “interesting and meaningful”, and having worked together at Sager + Wilde, realised a large amaro bar, restaurant, terrace and coffee station in Fare on Old Street by “crowdthinking 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 – 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, wine man, Lorenzo Franzoia, who has a fine line in caps under which he conceals Biros has amassed a collection of what Sager, who is fuelled by several “spros” (i.e. espressos), 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 glassware, wines may include Robola from Kefalonian limestone (Sclavos) and a Galician Garnacha and Godello field blend from granite, as well as vital keg wines from Rupert Taylor’s 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 Tequila + Sour Cherry with Punt E Mes, verjus and eucalyptus, and a consommé-like Celeriac Martini which is so good it can be gone in 60 seconds. Both arrive free of garnish. “You don’t garnish a glass of wine,” reasons Dzelzainis.
Dishes, by head chef, Thomas Raymond (formerly of Ellory) are “comforting and homely – but that doesn’t mean boring,” says Dzelzainis. These include a small plate of fried lamb sweetbreads with grumolo and kumquat, a near pheremonal truffled pizza with Cantal, black pepper and honey vinegar; and, from the grill, hake with lemon and Minestra, possibly accompanied by a side of duck fat potatoes. Finish with apple posset with bay leaf shortbread.
Overall, the operation is multi-faceted and quite experimental. “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 a meal when not worth it,” says Sager.
By Douglas Blyde.