Spitalfields in east London is a hub for transient pop-up restaurants – but with any luck its newest addition will be here to stay. Called simply BOTTLES, it does what it says on the…bottle. A cosy Italian tapas and wine joint it specialises in organic and independently labelled “liquid happiness” (their words) and hand-picked Mediterranean dishes that are ideal for sharing.
If canteen-style dining is your thing there’s a big central table – giving out an Italian mamma’s kitchen vibe – but if you prefer something a bit more private there’s also tables dotted about as well as an outside area that faces on to the market. As its name might suggest, the space is a showcase for its highly impressive wine selection. If you’re a bit of a plonk geek then you can while away a fair bit of time admiring the different vintages and their selection of Balthazars and Nebuchandezzars. The menu is concise – sometimes it’s better not to be confounded with too much choice – but still intriguing.
To start we kept it simple: a hefty curd of Burrata infused with cream and drizzled with basil oil to share. With some fresh sourdough to dip – the cheese was so meltable it was almost liquid – it kept us going while we decided what to feast on next. The staff recommended a cloudy organic Malibran Sottoriva Prosecco to go with the Burrata – tart and refreshing without the overpowering bubbles that can sometimes ruin your appetite. There was the perfect pause between courses, so that we could savour the fizz then properly enjoy the next wine pairing.
To go with our Spaghetti al Amatriciana with crispy guanciale and pecorino a glass of the Barolo Riserva was suggested – peppery, mature and full-bodied. Definitely one for sipping, not one for guzzling. Two glasses was enough for us before wanting something a little lighter so this is certainly more for someone who likes their wine fairly robust and rosy-cheek making.
The marinated octopus with roast potatoes and fennel was superb – it’s a dish that can often be tough and chewy but we were told their octopus was braised in lemon juice for eight hours then grilled so it was soft and tender with just a tiny hint of squidge. Served with roast potatoes, red pepper and fennel, it was an Italian classic we hadn’t heard of. Paired with a light Cerasuolo D’Abruzzo rose, both dishes were hearty enough to be filling but without the feeling of being sleepy with dough that sometimes happens after eating Italian.
If you want wine paired with each course, BOTTLES knows its stuff. All the waiting staff are also sommeliers. They’re enthusiastic and all have impressive knowledge of what they were selling. There’s more than 180 types of wines to choose from, so more than one visit might be necessary.
The kitchen is under the direction of the SOOD family, a pop-up concept founded by the ex-senior chef at the Chiltern Firehouse and a former legal consultant in the City. This is a genteel place: for those who want to explore wines from small producers and eat very high quality ingredients with a twist. Price-wise the food is standard London upmarket with the wine ranging from about £30 a bottle up to £130. The cellar selection starts at £95 all the way up to a 2004 Spanish Vega Sicilia Unico for £599. But ask the staff what will suit your budget, they’re more than happy to help.
We would not recommend BOTTLES for massive groups, the whole experience is intimate and there is something extra special about sharing between two. Take a date, a girlfriend, a boyfriend, whoever…dress up a bit, practice your ‘ciao bella’ and treat yourself to a bottle…or three.
67 Brushfield Street