When you’re asked to shimmy on down to a bar dedicated entirely to sparkling wine, it’s a bit of a no-brainer I’ll be honest. Grays and Feather, lying snug in Covent Garden, popped open its doors just seven weeks ago and already it seems to be an alluring alternative to your classic wine and Champers bars. That’s not to say the aforementioned will ever be outdated but give us a glistening new concept any day and it’ll turn our Handbook heads. Opened by mother and son wine-aficionado duo, there seems to be a strong air of expertise circulating the building, which plays host to one of Charles Dickens’ preferred writing spots back in the day.
A peacock was my first impression. No really! Perhaps au cause de their namesake, Grays and Feather sees a plush peacock replica adorning the stairwell, with its shades of opulent blues, greens and oranges seeping through as a colour-scheme in the remainder of the space. Snug and decadent, the interiors of Grays and Feather sashay far away from simplicity, with velvet sofas wrapped playfully around large oak tables, clad with an eclectic display of patterned plush pillows. Championing simple foliage and obscure artwork, owner Jenny described the venue as “somewhat like a house party” which goes hand-in-hand with the up-beat atmosphere inside. The space at Grays and Feather is spread across two floors, with two ambient coves available for private hire, one of which displays an elegant background of peacock feathers (perhaps ideal for that coveted Insta-snap, sparkling wine in hand!)
If you’re looking for food glorious food then you’ll get it at Grays and Feather. Sparkling wine may be the main focus, but this doesn’t take away from the various nibbles, small and large plates and boards and platters on offer. It is apparent from a simple flick through that the menu has been curated as handsomely and as with as much vibrancy as the interiors clutching to the walls inside. Meandering between fish offerings, to sumptuous cheeseboards or rillettes, the offerings can best be described as sophisticated posh-nosh without the extensive prices to match.
We sought out a few of the small plates, through greediness as well as intrigue. These included gordal olives and curry leaves (pitted might I add, always an advantage), sweet cured anchovies which were presented delightfully, cured mackerel with cucumber, apple, seaweed mustard and pickled ginger and last, but by no means least, a cheese board with the most moreish chutney. My advice would be to ricochet between the various headers, and definitely if nothing else get the salt peanut butter brownie with whipped vanilla aquafaba – ah, now that’s got your attention!
Now onto the important stuff – sparkling wine, of course. The venue showcases the history of sparkling wine and yet does it so elegantly as to not confuse the consumer. The wines on offer are globally sourced with around 50 whites and five rose and red on offer (yes sparkling red is a thing, I was pleasantly taken aback too). The brains behind the sparkle, entrepreneur Andrew Gray, talked us through taste as we lifted the delicate glasses up to our lips, tempted to take gulps at a time through pure love of the taste. Mr Gray certainly does have fifty shades when it comes to sparkling wine on offer, deeming the drinks offering to be the next Prosecco. I wouldn’t be surprised if this became true!
We began with a white; a Stellenbosch offering that incorporates grapes picked under the stars. Not only was the story attached to the drink magical but the taste matched up too. Light and airy, and simply delicious. Suffice to say one glass was by no means enough! The benefits of picking the grapes under the stars are more stable sugar levels and better acid levels. There are also various other advantages such as lower energy costs (and happier workers as a result!) We then delved into a sparkling rose from the intricate menu, and finished off with a d’Arenberg Peppermint Paddock sparkling red that comes along with a psychedelic purple hue. The red emits tastes of red-fruit jam and promotes a gorgeous if not unique taste. There’s definitely a thing or two to be learnt about sparkling wine at this equally as sparkling bar.
As a final word, the success generated from what began as an unassuming pop-up has since grown into a haven of coveted regional wines and, as said Charles Beaudelaire c. 1850s: “One should always be drunk. That’s all that matters…But with what? With wine, with poetry, or with virtue, as you chose. But get drunk.” This is the Grays and Feather mantra and will thus forth be something to adopt throughout life and most especially when frequenting the stylish new bar. Get along there without delay with someone who isn’t afraid to live a little on a “school night” and who loves to indulge in the finer things in life
Grays and Feather can be found in the midst of Theatre Land (Covent Garden, if you will) at 26 Wellington Street, WC2E 7DD, www.graysandfeather.com