The savings to be made by “bring your own bottle” to a restaurant are huge. So it is with some delight that Bookatable.com have identified their top ten restaurants who offer this exceptional facility.
Most restaurants need to cover the costs of buying the wine, storage in prime conditions in often valuable space, financing stock, the service, breakage and wastage, and of course a contribution towards the costs of running the restaurant; staff, heat and light, decor, rates, etc..
The norm therefore is for a wine on a list to be three times it’s cost, then a percentage is often added on the final bill for service, then 20% VAT. So BYOB is a huge bonus and a corkage of £10 or even up to £20 a bottle can seem very reasonable.
1. Hawksmoor, £5 corkage on Mondays BOOK HAWKSMOOR
A name that’s become synonymous with the word steak, Hawksmoor have currently racked up a tally of 6 on the London restaurant circuit. Sourcing meats from award-winning Yorkshire-based butchers, The Ginger Pig, guests can select am array of prime cuts from the blackboard, accompanied by a plethora of incredible sides, and indulgent extras (we’re talking grilled bone marrow, and maple bacon).
Wotwine says: For beef, it’s got to be a gutsy red, or if you plan to have Hawksmoor’s excellent grilled fish or lobster dishes, nothing will work better than the bright, citrus, lemony flavours of this Chablis.
2. Counter Culture, £10 corkage BOOK COUNTER CULTURE
Little sister of the acclaimed Dairy, found just next door, Counter Culture is a teensy trendy snack bar perched just next to Clapham Common. Feast on seasonal concoctions that’ve been pickled, fermented and cured, paired with stunning meats, fish and vegetables. Counter Culture now offers its own wine list, or guests can bring their own wine with a £10 corkage charge.
Wotwine says: Lots of powerful Mediterranean flavours require a complex, earthy, rustic white wine. Or for something a bit more “off piste”, try the bright, floral fruitiness of this wine from north west Spain.
3. OnCafe BOOK ONCAFE
With space for just 15, this bijou little haunt offers a mix of delicate French patisserie and traditional dim sum. Aromatic dim sum creations are served alongside traditional rice and noodle dishes at OnCafe, while desserts are infused with bold flavours like salted caramel, and hibiscus.
Wotwine says: There are all sorts if interesting possibilities for sweet wines here, which are generally great value. This luscious, unctuous dessert wine works well with sweet pastry, while this bright, crisp white wine will work well with salty soy sauce and dim sum.
4. Foxlow, £5 corkage on Mondays BOOK FOXLOW
An offshoot of the much-loved Hawksmoor gang, Foxlow also makes the beginning of the week more bearable with its Monday reduced price corkage. Find their eclectic British menu (steaks from the ginger pig, fried chicken and more) at their sites in Clerkenwell, Balham and Chiswick.
Wotwine says: This pinot noir works well with both meat and fish: good fruit and weight, but very soft tannins. We thought it worth twice its shelf price.
5. Caboose, £5 corkage BOOK CABOOSE
A restored train carriage hidden away on Brick Lane, Caboose specialises in slow-cooked, smokehouse meats in a cosy private setting. Your party takes up the entire space, with a 3-course menu reflecting the best of the season: think cured meats and cheese to start, then 10-hour pulled pork belly for the main event.
Wotwine says: Look for a luscious red powerful enough to complement the smokiness, with luscious but bright fruit. This rioja has lots of sweet fruit, with underlying layers of complex leather and oaky flavours.
6. Sheba BOOK SHEBA
As one of the oldest Indian restaurants in London, Sheba has served brought traditional recipes to Brick Lane since 1974. Multiple awards have been granted over the years for its mix of signature vegetarian creations, and Bangladeshi seafood specials. Guests are invited to bring their own alcohol at any time.
Wotwine says: Perhaps a cold beer is the best option, but for most dishes a good Alsace Gewurtztaminer is a good match, with Tesco & Sainsbury’s versions both around £8. For spicy intensity and weight, try the version from Waitrose.
7. Outlaw’s at The Capital, free corkage Thursdays BOOK OUTLAW’S AT THE CAPITAL
A Michelin-starred seafood restaurant from Nathan Outlaw, Outlaw’s is a pristine setting within Knightsbridge’s 5-star Capital hotel. Menu ingredients are sourced by known and trusted fishermen, with acclaimed signature dishes coming courtesy of head chef, Tom Brown. Enjoy these unmatched dishes against a backdrop interior design from Nina Campbell.
Wotwine says: This top-class fish restaurant deserves wine of comparable quality and class. Try this excellent white Burgundy, or a wonderful Greek wine from the island of Santorini, which is great value at £11.50.
8. Wright Brothers, £10 corkage BOOK WRIGHT BROTHERS
Another celebrated fish & seafood haunt, Wright Brothers serves sumptuously fresh dishes with creative Asian accents. Fresh oysters are shipped in from the restaurant’s own farm in Cornwall, while other catches are cherry picked from across the British Isles. In an edgy East London setting, guests can enjoy the buzz of the famous covered market, with corkage priced at £10 each day.
Wotwine says: To accompany this great seafood, we’d choose a bright, crisp and juicy wine, like this Castillo de Monterey Godello: crisp but intense enough to complement some of the spicier seafood dishes.
9. The Jones Family Project, £5 corkage on Mondays BOOK THE JONES FAMILY PROJECT
A laidback Manhattan-style bar and grill in Shoreditch, The Jones Family Project mixes modern, on-trend décor and home-cooked food. The menu is led by steaks, burgers and creatively finished meats, with international accents weaved throughout. Enjoy £5 corkage every Monday evening.
Wotwine says: Chargrilled and matured steaks deserve a very good with, like a big, juicy Argentinian Malbec. The Norton Winemaker’s Reserve 2011 is intense and classy, and worth much more than its shelf price.
10. Simply Indian BOOK SIMPLY INDIAN
Crafting recipes from across the subcontinent, Simply Indian is all about authenticity, with curries, grills and vegetarian dishes heading the diverse menu. At this bijou, homely hideaway, find dishes made using premium ingredients, including fish from Billingsgate Market, and halal meats.
Wotwine says: A light-in-alcohol, crisp, aromatic wine will enhance the flavours of these excellent curry dishes. We recommend a good German Riesling, and there are some wonderful value wines from Dr Loosen.
Bookatable have also advised us that the following great restaurants around the country also have BYOB on offer:
These are the restaurants and city page links:
1. The Stockbridge Restaurant, Edinburgh – Sunday nights
3. The Grill Steakhouse, Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire (Tuesday nights)
4. Hawksmoor, Manchester (Monday £5 corkage)
5. Two Fat Ladies, Glasgow (£7.50 Corkage)