Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Time Seems to Have Stood Still At Gordon's Wine Bar in London

Gordon’s Wine Bar in London

Gordon’s Wine Bar is quite a place. It is London's oldest wine bar. Full of character, it’s something of an institution in London . It has been established in its present form in 1890, when it was founded by Arthur Gordon. Time seems to have stood still at Gordon’s. It drew literary figures like Rudyard Kipling, who wrote The Light That Failed in the room above the bar and numerous celebrities including Lord (Lawrence) Olivier and Vivien Leigh.

The Place

Gordon’s is buried deep and dark beneath the streets with only a small doorway and a subtle sign indicating its presence. As you enter Gordon’s, you find yourself in a room with old wooden walls covered in historical newspaper cuttings and memorabilia faded with age.

Make your way to the cellar to get a candlelit table. You’ll probably have to wait a while for a table, but there’s no great hardship in propping yourself up in a corner and waiting for one to become available or, alternatively, asking to share the corner of someone else’s.

If the sun is out you can also sit outside in the Watergate walk and enjoy watching the world go by.

The Wines

If you look for outstanding wines, do not go there. Gordon’s wine list is not bad, but does not impress a wine expert. Gordon’s wine list includes a wide-ranging collection from the New and Old World, at reasonable prices. It is the stunning atmosphere of Gordon’s that makes these average wines so special. I liked the sturdy tumblers of port or sherry served straight from casks behind the bar.

The Food

Equally, the food is simple stuff; but it comes in generous portions ranging from home made pies to mature cheeses. Basic, good food.

Louis Gordon

The bar is very much a family affair, owned by Wendy Gordon who is the wife of the late Luis Gordon, and now looked after by Luis’ eldest son Simon. The current Gordon family is not actually related to Arthur Gordon, who founded the bar, but it was a happy coincidence that Luis Gordon discovered the bar and took it over in 1975. He died in 2002 at age 69.

In his early twenties Louis Gordon joined the family sherry business Luis Gordon & Sons as a salesman and in 1971 became Chairman. The Company was sole importer of the Domecq range of Sherries. Under Gordon's reign the company became the biggest player in the fast-expanding UK Sherry market with the distinction of receiving a Royal Warrant from the Queen and also from King Alfonso of Spain.

Gordon’s Wine Bar

47 Villiers Street
London WC2N 6NE, United Kingdom
020 7930 1408
Subway: Embankment


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