When the co-owner of a new wine bar is the daughter of Château Margaux owner Corinne Mentzelopoulos, the whole of the imbibing community sits up and takes notice. The other co-owner is Natsuko Perromat du Marais, who had been a restaurant consultant for the Alain Ducasse group for over ten years. Their brainchild Clarette, sets a new benchmark for other wine bars in London to follow.
The multi-levelled wine bar has converted a mock Tudor-fronted former pub in Marylebone into a modern, vibrant, flexible destination where customers are welcomed whether they are wearing T-shirts or tuxedos. The ground floor area is all about making new friends or catching up with old ones over fine wine on a spacious, communal table or just for people watching if you are lucky enough to nab one of those coveted outside terrace seats.
The first floor of Clarette is a more cosy affair for those who want to pair their wine with European-style sharing platters. They even have a charming red room, which you can curtain off for smaller intimate parties, or if you want the ultimate exclusivity, then consider hiring their second-floor dining space.
The wines range from a 2015 Pecorino from Abruzzo at £4.50 a glass to the most extravagant wines from the Château Margaux you can imagine. We tried a sophisticated tasting of Columella, Vindemia 2014. It has strong smells of plums and cherries whilst on the palate, and it has a wonderfully fresh acidity that helps to cut through the fattiness of some of their dishes.
We paired our wine with an artisanal selection of charcuterie, which doesn't just hail from France such as the Bayonne ham fourteen-months and saucisson sec, but also British coppa and British beef saucisson. It is always pleasing to see what is essentially a French wine bar trying to support local produce.
The unfussy presentation of Clarette's food is rather deceptive, as the fish crab cakes are ideally matched with the luscious tasting guacamole whilst the cured salmon with pickles and horseradish is made particularly fragrant with the addition of plum eau de vie.
For those after something more substantial, Clarette's braised octopus is the ideal signature dish to try; it has just the right amount of chewiness and is packed with small pieces of tomatoes, olives and capers.
We suspect that this new concept wine bar will have wine connoisseurs flocking to visit them for many months, and years to come.