When searching for a good central bar, my friend Emily suggested Vagabond Wines on Charlotte Street. I’ve always liked Charlotte Street, for its location (conveniently located between Tottenham Court Road and Goodge Street) and for its lively vibe (the street is jam packed full of cool bars and tempting restaurants).
Vagabond Wines stands out with its huge open window; the table by the window inside practically spilling out. Having got there at 8:30 on a Friday it was busy. But luckily I had booked us a table. Yes – hooray – you can book tables here, unlike so many other (Northern) Soho bars.
Our table was in the downstairs area, which is a bit quieter. You’re surrounded by wine cases and boxes. It’s messy and smells a bit musty, in a nice not a grimy way. But upstairs is where you really want to be.
Vagabond Wines is first and foremost a wine shop or ‘enoteca’. The unique twist here is that they have 100 bottles lined up which you can taste. It’s very straight forward: you get a Vagabond card which you top up at the bar. You slot this card into one of the wine ‘fridges’/’machines’ (hard to name) and this allows you to press a bottom above whichever wine you fancy and you’ll be poured a taster.
It will say how much the bottle costs and how much the taster is (the more expensive the wine, the more expensive the taster). Tasters can range from 65p to £3.50. Bottles from £6.95 to a hell of a lot more. It’s great fun. Especially for amateurs like me, who loves wine but could probably do with some more lessons on how to tell a Cabernet Sauvignon apart from a Chardonnay. This is a good place to start learning. And it’s interactive too.
Apart from being a shop, you can also drink the wine here. For a £10 corkage fee per bottle, you can buy the bottles at retail prices and drink in the shop. So that’s what we did. The Rose was especially nice, and not expensive at £6.95 a bottle (plus the corkage).
For those hungry after a long week they also serve sharing platters of charcuterie and cheeses. But it is primarily all about the vino.
The staff are friendly and helpful. The atmosphere is really good. And their flagship shop is in fact in Fulham (Vanston Place), around the corner from where I live. What more can you want?
25 Charlotte Street
020 3302 4044