27A Hay\'s Mews, Mayfair, W1J 5NY
WLC Rank : 3
Glass from : £ 13.50 (175 ml)
BEST FORBeautiful two-Michelin-starred dishes by Alex Dilling
Unique bottles and magnums with patina
Expect a legendary list comprising liquid history at the serene Greenhouse, which now has a sensational new chef at the helm of the naturally lit kitchen.
The Greenhouse preserves an astonishing collection of bottles, including: Dom Pérignon Oenothèque 1966, Penfolds Grange 1961, Salon 1959, Musar 1956, Cheval Blanc 1949 (magnum), Calon-Ségur (magnum) 1945, Marqués de Murrieta Ygay 1935, Romanée-Conti 1929, d’Yquem 1928, Pétrus 1928, Margaux 1924, Franz Karl Schmitt Niersteiner Fläschenhahl 1921, Latour 1900 (magnum), Massandra Kagor Prince Golitzin Lacrima Christi 1896, Málaga PX 1890, Lafite 1870, and Tokaji Essencia 1866…
In total, sommelier, Elvis Ziakos, who has a fine collection of Prince of Wales checked suits, oversees more than 3,400 bins at this leafy, luxurious haven, amassed with patience and strategy. To an innocent bystander, such a venerable list may appear intimidating. However, Ziakos has humility, and aside from the aged icons starring on his list, there is plenty of interest even sub £50 a bottle, and even the odd bargain, such as Sine Qua Non’s Stripes and Stars rosé, which is cheaper here than retail.
Born into a “gastronomic” family, Ziakos who is Greek and has performed in the Best Sommelier of the World competition for his country, recalls his father, “bringing back frogs’ legs and wild boar.” One of his favourite hobbies is history. “Etymologically, the word ‘gastronomy’ is derived from the Ancient Greek, ‘gastḗr’ (stomach) and ‘nomos’ (‘laws that govern’). Thus, “the art or law of regulating the stomach,” he says.
Ziakos chose to study the culinary arts when he was 16, working in every aspect of a restaurant including the kitchen from the age of 17. In total, he has spent a quarter of a century “on the floor.” Like fellow leading Greek wine professional, Terry Kandylis of 67 Pall Mall, Ziakos describes himself as having become “a great head waiter before becoming a sommelier, to learn service properly.”
Of the Adonis of a chef, Alex Dilling, in the role since August 2018, Ziakos says, “without the chef, we can’t sell wine,” adding, “in Greece, wine and food are like a wedding!” Dishes by the London born, USA raised and American of accent, Dilling are probably the prettiest in London, and Ziakos refers to their style as “purity of richness”. Dilling, who is formerly of Alain Ducasse at Adour, New York, and Hélène Darroze, London and internationally, notes The Greenhouse was his grandfather’s favourite London restaurant.
Ziakos accurately mentally deduces food and wine matches initially, choosing ferment which accentuates and curls around elements of a dish rather than simply cutting through with piercing acidity. Standout matches may include escabeche (which Ziakos says is “French for ceviche”) of mackerel, Granny Smith apples, pickled carrots cut into the shape of leaves and fennel-infused coriander oil with a juicy, “Molton Brown” and beeswax-scented, relatively gently-priced Mosel Riesling. (Reichsgraf Von Kesselstatt (Kaseler Nies’chen Kabinett, 2014),
Similarly, made by Alex Gambal, the offspring of a car park entrepreneur in Washington DC, organic, “higher altitude” St. Romain, an appellation which one merchant describes as having an “off-Broadway address,” brings floral perfume to a passion flower-esque dish of tender white asparagus with razor clam velouté and cockle roes.
Lavender scented squab for two with thoroughly truffled claws may be matched with a Côte-Rôtie by Patrick and Christophe Bonnefond (Colline de Couzou), which Ziakos describes as having scents of, “salami, black olive, wild berries and violets – being silky despite the extreme heat the Romans encountered in Côte-Rôtie.”
Ziakos also embraces sweet wines such as Macaulan Torcolato from Breganze, which “can be the greatest sweet wine in the world,” he says, and Santo Wines’ Vinsanto from Santorini, featuring grapes reaped from pre-phylloxera wines. “Sweet wines were born in the South Aegean sea!” he says. “There’s no other region with such consistency.”
Exceptionally finely tuned, The Greenhouse is part of Lebanese restaurateur, Marlon Abuela’s classy portfolio, which also comprises Kyoto inspired UMU, The Square, members’ club Morton’s, Marc Patisserie and Bakery and OW Loeb fine wines.
By Douglas Blyde.