Chapel Down’s new bar in
King's Cross - London
The English wine makers Chapel Down have opened a new bar and restaurant in London's King's Cross. To find out more about Chapel Down's new venture in the heart of one of London's busiest areas, we contacted Guy Tresnan their Retail and Hospitality Director.
Where did the idea to open a bar in King's Cross come from?
King's Cross and specifically the development at Coal Drops Yard brings something entirely different to London’s retail and dining scene. It has a really interesting mix of independent retailers along with better known international brands. In addition, there are numerous companies based in the area, Google, Guardian, Universal Music and many more. It was therefore an easy choice of location for our gin home.
The bar specialises in Gin and also serves Chapel down’s English wines. How has it been received to date?
Our signature G&T is the best seller every single week. We use our Bacchus Gin and serve with fresh grapefruit, juniper berries and rosemary. Our Tenterden Estate Bacchus Reserve is our best-selling wine, our guests like to hear about the grapes coming from a relatively small block at our home in Tenterden. It really is our “house” wine. Every single Chapel Down wine, still or sparkling, including the incredible Kit’s Coty Coeur de Cuvee is available by the glass, our guests love to explore.
Frazer Thompson, Chapel Down's CEO, has said that ‘The very best English food and drink will be served’. What does this mean for Chapel Down?
Our menu has been selected to please vegans, vegetarians as well as meat and fish lovers. We offer small and large plates rather than starters and main, again we like to give our guests the opportunity to graze and share. The lunch time specials that change weekly, are very popular with guests that are short on time but are looking for something that is packed with flavour.
There has been mention of 'experiential elements’ and ‘seasonal British cuisine’ at the venue. Could you tell me more about what this means?
We offer tutored wine tastings, gin experiences and beer education, all with food matching if requested. From a seasonal perspective, we will only use the freshest of ingredients from a chosen list of suppliers. Provenance is also very important to us.
We took this quote from your website- ‘We believe that at the heart of great taste is a conversation with the Earth- It is here where our menu takes its inspiration and the influence, from one of the most unreliable of business partners - mother nature’. What does this quote mean to Chapel Down?
Everything we do has winemaking techniques at the heart. All of the elements that go into our wines, beers and spirits rely on nature, we like that most natural of approaches. In our opinion it doesn’t get better than that. It’s not easy sometimes but mother nature can be a great partner to work with.
How important do you think it is for English wine producers, particularly Chapel Down, to have a presence in London ?
London is one of the most cosmopolitan cities in the world and English wine has been getting better and better over the past decade. I therefore think it is unbelievable that any restaurant or bar of any standing does not have some representation of English Wine on their list. The situation is certainly better than it was even five years ago, but there is still so much more we can do. Chapel Down wines have always had a strong representation in London, but there are now so many more producers making great wines, the long held observation of scarcity for the category is no longer relevant.
What plans are there for the future of the bar?
We have only been open for a little over five months and so we really are still finding our feet. We are very lucky that with the support of our board we can change things on a weekly basis if we chose to, we are not constricted by red tape and multiple levels of decision making. So I’m sure there will be changes over the years to come. I think if you stand still and become complacent you run the risk of going backwards.
Chapel Down Pinot Noir Gin has been produced by distilling Pinot Noir grape skins leftover from the pressing process for the estate’s sparkling wine and blending them with English wheat spirit’ where did the idea come from to do this?
The gin and vodka projects were devised and led by our Head Winemaker Josh Donaghay-Spire. He is a very talented winemaker who is always looking at new and exciting ideas.
King's Cross, the canal, Granary Square are popular with tourists (Eurostar comes into St.Pancras), how do you find visitors from overseas react to your English Wine and Gin?
Many already know of us, those that don’t and find us by chance are always surprised and delighted.
Thanks Guy, we look forward to our next visit. To find out more about Chapel Down's wines and vineyards see the links below: