Tucked away down a hidden cobbled walkway off St Bride's Passage, nestled between the high walls of St Bride's churchyard and beneath the church itself, is the entrance to Humble Grape. On a warm August evening we arrived to sample this new venue making an entrance onto the City's wine bar and casual dining scene.
Upon passing through the arched stone doorway of the venue's 'humble' entrance, I was astounded by the size and style of the interior space. I love the tucked away, hidden quality of the place, which opens up into the warm, welcoming and hugely spacious rooms within.
With its high, vaulted ceilings of exposed stone and intricate sandstone archways, recycled cork walls and an assortment of industrial-style lighting, the venue is really quite stunning. One of my favourite spots is one of the original crypts of the church, now transformed into a wine store for many of the bottles from their wonderful selection. With wrought iron bars interwoven between the glass panes and the light shining off the many bottles lined neatly along the cork walls, the effect is really quite impressive.
Humble Grape is really more than just a wine bar. Firstly, the venue itself is spectacular, and could easily pass as a serious events space as a hidden-away bar off Fleet Street. Secondly, the food is exquisite and, whilst retaining a chilled out, unpretentious feel, many of the dishes far exceed the fine-dining options that can be found elsewhere in the City.
Food and Drink
Humble Grape offers up a collection of over 30 wines by the glass or carafe, and over 200 by the bottle. Whilst the origin and range of these wines differ hugely, the care and attention paid to the sourcing and selection is consistent. Most are exclusives, and from many of the smaller vineyards the whole vintage is often bought. We began with a glass of delicious sparkling pink wine - the Llopart Reserva Brut Cava (£9.75). All of those we tried throughout the evening were superb, and by the end of the night I was convinced that Humble Grape is something of a wine lover's paradise.
One thing that made me instantly like Humble Grape is its uncomplicated, amusing wine list. The Winzer Schup Rotgipfler, for example, was described as ‘As crazy as its name’, and the Sauvignon we tried from the Balland-Chapuis vineyards was made by a family who are experts at two things - 'wines and marriages'.
The dishes served up by the fantastic team in the kitchen are all designed to be shared, and the food is delicious. I tried my first taste of Biltong (£9), hailing from the owner's native South Africa, though I can't say I was a fan. However I was reliably informed by my dried meat loving companion that it was in fact very good. The Baked Camembert (£10.75) was something else. Not that you can really go wrong with this baked cheese delight, but the combination of pistachio, rosemary and garlic it was infused with made this a mouth-wateringly moreish option, served with plenty of toasted focaccia for dipping.
Sampling the Salmon Tartare (£14), we discovered why our host had recommended this delectable, summery dish served with coarse guacamole, lime juice and pomegranate. The special of the day, Beef Entrecôte Stew (£19), veered slightly from the venue's sharing platter concept, but with melt-in-the-mouth beef, truffle-infused mash and tender green veg, was definitely an enjoyable addition to the menu.
We finished the night with the Dulce Venganza ('Sweet Revenge') Chardonnay, a great dessert wine that acted as a perfect end to the evening.
The service provided by the team at Humble Grape is exceptionally friendly and attentive and the hosts are highly skilled at making you feel immediately welcome. Never fear if you are not yourself a huge wine buff, I am pretty sure that the team know pretty much everything there is to know about wine and are more than happy to provide you with suggestions or talk to you about the wines that are on offer.
A pleasant jazz playlist could be heard throughout the venue and mixed well with the gentle hum of chatter from the happy punters seated throughout the restaurant and bar. The atmosphere is one of convivial sophistication and is perfect for after-work drinks with colleagues, a great evening spent with friends or an elegant first date.
I am sure that Humble Grape's great atmosphere and excellent menu will soon make it a favourite haunt of many, it is certainly already on my list of go-to bars in the City. As of yet still something of a hidden treasure, it is a new take on London wine bars finding its feet with incredible style.