Monday, December 17, 2007

Bedales - rest for the wicked

When you are fearlessly braving the pre-Christmas weekend shopping crush to buy gifts for your nearest and dearest, you deserve a treat. For me, such a treat came in the very welcome shape of a cosy wine bar in the new bit of Spitalfields market. The walls are lined with bottles and you can choose to crack any one of them open there and then, at the narrow table in the middle of the shop for a modest corkage of £8. (In the fully-booked St John's Bread and Wine round the corner, blackboards seemed to suggest mark ups in the £20-30 range.) We decided to take it easy though (too many Christmas parties), and opted for wines by the glass (from about £5). The food menu is short and simple, ranging from meat and cheese platters, to pates and warming bowls of soup of the day.
We ordered at the bar-cum-shop-counter, opting for a large "mixed plank" of cheese and charcuterie. It arrived on a wooden board, featuring about 4 choices from each food group and accompanied by a large basket of fresh-tasting bread from the aforementioned St John. The hard, French-style salami was the most popular, while the proscuitto went very well with the goat's cheese. About the only miss to my mind was the chorizo of the large, thin slices variety -- I far prefer it served in small, thick, warmed up chunks in a red wine sauce. There were also olives and a pot of rich -- almost too rich -- tapenade. With tip, we were stuffed for under £30 for two, and left feeling rejuvenated enough to resume the shopping. We might well return in the evening (they are open until 9-9.30 pm in the week), with some wine-knowledgeable friends, to while away a couple of hours and a couple of bottles in a convivial atmosphere.

Bedales, 12 Market Street (off of Brushfield Street), Spitalfields, E1 6DT; Tel: 020 7375 1926; Tube: Liverpool Street;

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