The Coral Room
16-22 Great Russell Street, Bloomsbury, WC1B 3NN
WLC Rank : 82
Cuisine: Wine bar
Glass from : £ 9.50 (125 ml)
BEST FOREnglish Sparkling Wine
Art by Luke Edward Hall
Interior by Martin Brudnizki
A soaring ceiling, uniquely hued walls and original approach to English wines brings class and depth to the Bloomsbury Hotel's brighter of two bars, designed by Martin Brudnizki.
Master of Wine and talented singer, Anne McHale entirely focuses on homegrown wines in her rotating by the glass selection of six sparklers from small vineyards, supplemented by a further six pages of English wines by the bottle. “Producers were very supportive that we could list such an extensive selection,” she says. “And, as the word has spread, more and more have been expressing interest to the extent there is now a waiting list to appear!”
With acidity to the fore, McHale rates wines such as Albourne Blanc de Blancs from Surrey to accompany dishes such as Dorset crab on toast by executive chef, Byron Moussouris.
Alongside, the bar team concoct cocktails starring English wine as their backbone, including the watermelon and agave-enriched “Wiltshire Warrior”, a “Chiswick Spritz” combining Sipsmith gin from W4 with pomegranate juice, kumquat vodka and raspberry vinegar, and the “Garden of England,” blending East India Solera sherry with lavender syrup and pink grapefruit.
McHale, a former ambassador, internationally, for Berry Bros. & Rudd, believes The Coral Room’s vividly-coloured walls heighten “the effervescence and crispness of the English bubbles,” while the upbeat playlist and resident DJ’s, Wednesday-Saturday, “bring a celebratory feel.” She adds, “it’s a truly impressive space with a wow factor; beautiful Murano glass chandlers, high ceilings, playful artwork: perfect for get-togethers, parties and having a great time – and sparkling wine is synonymous with these occasions.”
Studious McHale, whose father founded the student wine society at Queen’s University, Belfast in 1969, recalls her ultimately rewarding journey to becoming a Master of Wine in 2013. “It was quite an arduous five years with a few tears shed.” Despite her focus on wine from our island at The Coral Room, she notes the syllabus’ meagre focus on English wine. “Awareness has grown in recent years, of course, and at this year’s Stage two Master of Wine student seminar, at which I was a teacher, we did show a Nyetimber as part of a blind line-up. So English wine is now on the radar of MW students globally.”
The Coral Room at the grade-II listed Bloomsbury Hotel (behind Centrepoint) is owned by The Doyle Collection, which also comprises The Marylebone and The Kensington, “where I also craft the wine lists in collaboration with my colleagues.” A busy consultant, McHale spends much of her time as a wine educator and presenter to both consumers and the trade, “as well as being a regular tutor on the WSET Diploma programme.”
McHale offers advice to women entering the wine business. “Start on the WSET journey as soon as possible, and build relationships with others in the industry as those are what will help you out later on in your career. For women specifically, although attitudes are shifting, it is still a male-dominated industry and it can sometimes be an interesting point of difference to be a woman. Overall, though, it is your skill, passion and commitment to work hard that will ensure you succeed, regardless of gender.”
By Douglas Blyde.