Given the prices and vintage choices, this is a list which basically says ‘Drink Me’
Opened in 1927, when it was known as the Tate Gallery refreshment room, and restored in 2013, the Rex Whistler restaurant at Tate Britain showcases consistent wine producers at the top of their game at arrestingly good prices which include service. The handsome room, which is not overly formal takes its name from the English Artist commissioned to paint the fantastical wraparound mural for the room entitled, ‘The Expedition in Pursuit of Rare Meats’, depicting the story of a royal party travelling the world in search of exotic foods.
The seriously stocked and properly cared for cellar, which, given the prices and vintage choices, basically says ‘Drink Me’, has been built up by Hamish Anderson and his team. Anderson began his hospitality career as a sommelier at Bibendum, the original Conran restaurant in the Michelin building today overseen by Claude Bosi. Now CEO and wine buyer for Tate, Anderson also writes about wine, with his book ‘Vino: Great Wine for Everyday Life’ selling more than 15,000 copies. Anderson also pens columns for the Saturday Telegraph Magazine and features for Telegraph Men. In recent years, he mentored Gustavo Medina who oversees the Rex Whistlers wine list on a daily basis.
According to restaurant manager, Matthew Randall, who joined in summer 2016 following several years working in five star hotels in Scotland, London, Canada and Dubai, visits are made annually to Bordeaux and Burgundy to secure wines en-primeur, with regular meetings with new suppliers to continuously evolve the list.
With exceptions, such as the ‘Wines of California Dinner’ last year, coinciding with the Hockney Exhibition, and the annual Burgundy wine dinner, the restaurant is open lunchtimes only. Hence the wide range of half bottles, such as Nyetimber Rosé, Maximin Grünhauser Riesling, two decades old Château Musar, and Ridge Montebello, allowing guests a wider selection at a time of day when they may wish to drink less.
Begin with vintage Champagne close to retail price then while away the afternoon with good, rested Rhônes, Bordeaux, Burgundies and Californians, alongside starters which may include duck with Tate coffee cure, root vegetables, winter leaves and mustard dressing, then roast halibut with Jerusalem artichokes, spinach, hazelnuts and red wine veal sauce, culminating with ‘Epicuriana’ of Nahua chocolate, honeycomb, hazelnuts and goats’ milk ice cream, perhaps with a glass of 1980 Samos nectar from a lovingly curated selection of stickies.
NB. £15 per bottle or free corkage for each BYOB when purchasing a subsequent bottle from the list.
By Douglas Blyde.