76 Wilton Road, 3
WLC Rank : 42
Glass from : £ 4.50 (125 ml)
BEST FORGreat value across the board
Wine list by the friendly Katie Exton
Developed, wine-friendly dishes and excellent bread and olive oil
Excellent low/no offer
Led by Katie Exton, Lorne’s front of house staff almost unanimously have a minimum of WSET Level 3 qualifications, meaning “staff members know their stuff!”
“There are tons of delicious things to get drinking at Lorne right now,” exclaims Katie Exton of the modern classic, chipper Lorne, a pretty, textured, plant-enriched haven of a dining room with a playlist she calls a “pillow of warmth to make the room feel private.”
Exton was part of the senior sommelier and wine buying team at The River Café, although her career “was really carved at Chez Bruce.” Exton is to the wine-loving diner, a reassuring presence. Her balanced, reaching, highly drinkable list bears testament to a harmonious palate and clear desire to delight her guests. It is also a beacon of sanity when it comes to pricing, with plenty of joy at £40 or under on bottles discovered by both Exton and her co-pilot of the list, Alice Doran, the latter of whom arranges wine-paired game dinners at Lorne.
Alongside the likes of Pol Roger and Krug Grande Cuvée 164, Exton has added grower Champagnes, “so fans of Cédric Bouchard will be happy,” as well as showcasing homegrown sparkling rosé from Coates & Seely and slow-maturing Sekt from legendary Saar river valley winemaker, Peter Lauer.
Exton’s “infatuation point” wine-wise, is Italy. “I’m really loving Sangiovese at present and rate, too, the outstanding consistency and quality of Piedmont.” Furthermore, her quite “classic” customers are reaping the rewards of Exton’s re-discovery of everyday Bordeaux, of which “quality has improved.” Exton has also added several renditions from Greece this year and a dry Spanish Palomino. “The brilliant Viñateros tasting pre-lockdown is still lingering on my memory,” recalls Exton, hence the addition of an “incredible Bierzo” from César Márquez, nephew of Raul Pérez.
From the bar, the balanced, umami-rich, “Lorne Aperitif” is a perennial must order, combining white Port, sherry, Madeira, and rosemary-infused Chartreuse infused with rosemary. She has also paid much care to the non-alcoholic selection including Matthew Jukes’ “brilliant” Cordialities range, “which, having real palate weight, appeal to a wine drinker – the first soft drink I can sip throughout a meal.”
Complete, considered, craft-rich dishes by chef-owner, Peter Hall, who recently discovered pleasure in the wines of Romania, may include mac and cheese bites, the starter of glazed veal sweetbread with ale soaked barley, main of Hertfordshire beef and oxtail pie with mushroom purée, and poached comice pear, sorrel granita to culminate, perhaps with a glass of Yarra Yarra Pink Moscato (Innocent Bystander).
Be sure to seek out the single bottle fine wine list. This might include a Chambolle-Musigny from Domaine Ghislaine Barthod, Bruno Giacosa’s Asili Riserva Barbaresco, and an older rendition of La Rocca from Pieropan, all subject to cash mark-ups.
When not at Lorne, Exton tends to her budding toddler, Martha.
By Douglas Blyde.