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Here at Wildflower Magazine, we are on a mission to seek out interesting wine bars and restaurants across the UK, with a special nod to those supporting local wine producers.

Upstairs at The George

Once you’ve got through the rugby scrum of a crowd downstairs, and you’ve found the secret staircase to the first floor of this classic pub, you’ll enter an oasis of calm and cool. Pass by the bijou restaurant and enter the four-seater cosy English Sparkling Wine Bar. Having opened in early 2022, this bar is newly resplendent with pink walls and velvet art deco chairs and most importantly offers a trove where local wines are the treasure.

With an ambitious list of over 140 local wines, several by the glass, we found that an evening exploring English wine producers here tastes even more British with a side of oysters from Devon and whelks from Cornwall.


Date of Visit

Spring 2022.

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Feels like

Your own private, romantic (and very glamourous) bar of yesteryear..

 

Best for

A glass or two with a loved one before dinner in the gorgeous Dining Room next door.

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Love local wines?

It’s refreshing to see a wine list where half of the list is dedicated to local wines. The motto here is all about creating the largest wine list of English wines, highlighting and championing local producers, small and large.

Nearly 40 producers from 11 counties are represented alongside urban wine from London. There’s a lot of sparkling as you’d expect, made from the traditional sparkling varieties of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Meunier. The small selection of still wines are made from the ‘English’ varieties of Ortega and Bacchus with a supporting cast of Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris and even a Pét-Nat – what a lovely surprise.

On our visit, three wines were available by the glass from Gusbourne, Rathfinny and Wiston. We also tried the still Pinot Noir by Danbury, which was smooth, balanced and all kirsch cherries and strawberry on the nose and palate.

The wine list is long and comprehensive, which is great, if not a tad overwhelming. It will be interesting to see how it develops over time, perhaps a list by style of wine or grape variety would be the next step.

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Plates

We opted for seafood at the bar with our glasses and enjoyed River Teign oysters with shallot and Cabernet Sauvignon dressing (nice wine touch there), followed by hand-dived roasted scallops with hazelnut butter, finishing with Cornish whelks which we gleefully dipped into curry mayonnaise. The Dining Room next door was inviting – and busy – however we were more than happy with our Seafood Bar selection.

Small and cosy, the 30-seater Dining Room is the place to go to for a special occasion or romantic liaison. The three rooms used to be the living quarters of The George’s former proprietors. Possibly a lot more elegantly designed now, the menu is posh pub fare, stocked full of classics, with seasonally sought ingredients, locally selected. Headed up by James Knappett formerly of two-Michelin star, Kitchen Table, think Cornish plaice on the bone, lamb shoulder hot pot and Langoustine scampi and chips with all the sumptuous trimmings.

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We love the fact that the restaurant continues the local wine support, promoting a revolving wine producer lunch. At the time of publishing a Gusbourne rosé lunch menu from £30 was one to come back for, the Kent sparkling wine producer being a firm favourite of the WineFly.

The next producer lunches coming up, we hear, will be Westwell followed by Harrow & Hope …. even more excuse to return!

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Other pips ‘n pieces

There’s a lovely private dining room with beautiful stained-glass windows and Victorian fireplaces that seats 14-20 or around 25 standing. The fact that it is right next to the wine cellar (on the first floor) is even more enticing.

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The Bottom Line

English wines by the bottle start from £32
Seafood bar dishes start at £9 with mains in the Dining Room from £22

 

Opening Hours

Wednesday to Saturday: Lunch 12pm-3pm. Dinner 5pm-10pm
Sunday: Midday – 6pm

 

*Please note, wines, dishes and prices are correct at time of visit and may be subject to change.

 

Upstairs at The George
55 Great Portland Street
London W1W 7LQ

 

thegeorge.london/upstairs/