London’s neighbourhood wine bar scene is set to continue its rapid expansion this spring, as Vins gets ready to open near Canonbury station in north London — just a short walk from local favourite Primeur, arguably one of the city’s pioneers of the neighbourhood European-style, tapas-y restaurant/wine bar crossover, and predecessor to one of 2017’s hottest openings, Westerns Laundry. Vins will open in early May.
Vins is a new project from Vinny Burke and Hugo Thurston — the pair behind Shoreditch’s well-regarded Jago, which was resident in Second Home’s Brick Lane headquarters until its closure last year — and will comprise a natural wine shop and 20-seat neighbourhood restaurant. Different in intention, then, to the likes of P. Franco — which evolved naturally over time from a more dedicated wine shop to the undefinable grey area it occupies today — Vins is setting out to create an “intimate venue with a dual purpose” which will “sell alcohol in the manner of a wine shop, yet also ... for consumption on the premises in a restaurant environment.”
The small kitchen will offer “seasonal European cooking in a classical menu format,” while an ever-changing wine list — with up to a dozen cuvées available by the glass each night — will be supplemented by the wide array of wines on the retail shelves, available to be ordered to drink in with the addition of a nominal £10 corkage charge. It’s a format that has found favour in recent years led by the likes of P. Franco, and enables diners to try more expensive wines at prices that Burke says represent “amazing value”; far cheaper than in a restaurant applying traditional markups.
Eater spoke to Burke to find out a little more about the project:
Who is in the team?
Emils Fjodorovs will head chef at Vins. Emils is a talented young chef that produces realy delicious plates of food. I am pleased to be able to continue our journey together having worked with Emils at Jago restaurant prior to Vins. My role will be very hands on at Vins, primarily focussed on the front of house.
I have lived in and around the area for almost twenty years. I am looking forward to getting to know my customers and seeing them enjoy the environment we have created. The site itself is intimate and cute and offers plenty of outdoor seating. We are well served by Canonbury overground station, enabling those looking to get to us from a little further afar to do so easily.
What made you go down the wine shop/bar route instead of pursuing another restaurant in the more traditional sense?
As a wine shop and restaurant we are able to offer a range of services and experiences that we can tailor to suit each individual customer. I am passionate about building enduring relationships with customers and suppliers alike. I have been fortunate in my career to have been encouraged to explore natural wine and to value my own response in the process. At Vins we enable interested customers to explore great products and the communities behind them. Look out for the first run of our very own magazine!
Any suppliers you’d like to highlight on the food/wine front?
We believe in all of our suppliers and are passionate about working with their products. We work with most of the natural importers to ensure we are well stocked with seasonal wines that are tasting great. The real Al Company supply us with seasonal craft ciders. Wildcard brewery in Walthamstow supply our beers. We also partner with Bread by Bike who make just the most fantastic sourdough.
Vins joins a host of other wine bar openings in recent months: Forest Bar & Kitchen in Walthamstow, Weino BIB in Dalston, Sapling on Kingsland Road; and follows the news that Good Neighbour will open in Camberwell. Meanwhile, Leroy opened in Shoreditch today.