374 Coldharbour Lane, Brixton, SW9 8PL
WLC Rank : 322
Cuisine: Wine bar
Glass from : £ 6 (125 ml)
BEST FORThe charismatic Melanie Brown
The Cleaners Diary fine wine book
Characterful old building
NEW PRESS wine range
The Laundry offers a mix of old-world authenticity laced with energetic Antipodeon flair.
Described as a “Model Wash House”, The Laundry is an all-day bistro and wine shop in a historic building brought to you by the sometimes cheeky founder of the New Zealand Cellar, Melanie Brown.
Underneath a stuck clock is a striking, Edwardian edifice, home until 2014 to a steam press laundry. Its Parisian-inspired front terrace abuts cosmopolitan dining and shopping destination, Brixton market.
Brown, who is also the founder of the New Zealand cellar online merchant, previously looked after the all New Zealand wine list at Marylebone’s pioneering fusion restaurant The Providores (RIP), saving both the tables from its Tapa room which now meet duck egg banquettes at The Laundry, as well as key team members some of whom appear spa fresh. The covetable, ornate cutlery was sourced at a Paris flea market meanwhile.
Brown advises, “anyone can come,” to enjoy morning croissants then bistro classics such as a notably crunchy Caesar salad with a similarly crisp glass of Sauvignon Blanc from the NEW PRESS range which Brown created with Marlborough winemaker, Ben Glover. These feature labels printed on a novel Edwardian mangle transformed into a letterpress, with the brand name paying homage to both New Zealand and the Newland Family who previously operated the laundry. “Not coastal, so not brutally aggressive in character,” says Brown. Other dishes include rich roast cod cassoulet with smoked mussels, partnered with sultry, earthy Langhe Nebbiolo (Giovanni Rossi) which Brown likens to “a classy millennial”, and a large, springy cookie with ice cream for sharing with excellent coffee care of Caravan.
On request in addition to the core list is The Cleaners Diary, a soft leather-bound book featuring bottles such as Leflaive Bourgogne Blanc, Giaconda Chardonnay and a double magnum of Ronan by Clinet, supplied by the ebullient broker, Gareth Birchley. Notably, this expanded during the lockdown. “The cool thing is the Instagram account @thecleanersdiarybrixton which is essentially a live wine list where all the tiles are physically available and have the price, description,” says Birchley. “And when the wine is sold out the picture tile is deleted.”
Dishes and bottles arrive alongside a sometimes anxious playlist intended to keep guests on their toes – “we don’t want anyone getting complacent!” says Brown, whose motto is “to under-promise and over-deliver.” In rebellion to her Swiss mother, she incidentally sought an infinity tattoo on her wrist when attempting to “find myself” in Nepal. Her “hobby” is restaurants. “I love the way they make you feel, emotionally and physically.” She has however found time to renovate a house, tend to an allotment with her daughter while bringing The Laundry to life.
Events at the premises included a masterclass by Seresin, the Marlborough estate where Brown got married.
During the lockdown, as well as catching some sleep, Brown found positivity in reflecting on her first three months of trading while also turning The Laundry into a General Store.
By Douglas Blyde.