What's the draw
Bar Crispin is the new offshoot from Crispin, the restaurant and natural wine bar hunkered down in a gorgeously modern building just beyond the outskirts of Spitalfields Market. We like Crispin a lot: think lovely small plates like charred friggitelli peppers smothered in chorizo emulsion; burrata with nectarine and basil; and borlotti beans with baked courgette with salsa verde. Yes, yes and bloody hell yes. Throw in an equally lovely wine list, make it all reasonably priced, and you've got yourself a winner – which is why we were excited to hear that the team have set up shop in Carnaby, Soho, with a smaller space that's more wine bar than restaurant, but still delivers on those smashing small plates nonetheless.
What to drink
If you're looking for a place to try fun, forward-thinking wines, this is it. There's a European-led, 150-strong wine list, curated by GM and sommelier Alexandra Price – previously of exclusive member's club Annabel's – so this is the type of place to order by the glass and (slowly) drink the night away. It really is hard to go wrong here, but we were particularly struck by biodynamic, vegan and low-sulphite 'Frei. Körper. Kultur' from German winemaker DB Schmitt. A skin-contact blend of pinot blanc, pinot gris and lesser-known German grapes, it was mineral, refreshing and the ideal start to an evening of grazing through various different dishes and flavours.
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What to eat
The food here, while different to Crispin's, has the same vibe that we love so much: seasonal small plates that don't adhere to any particular cuisine but are delicious in their own right. Go straight in with the anchovy and potato focaccia with salsa verde (especially good to provide a bit of ballast if you've already necked your wine), then freshen things up with an oozy burrata with fennel and a lovely grassy drizzle of olive oil. Our favourite dish was the charred hispi cabbage – doused in a chorizo sauce, it deeply flavoured but still with bite and texture, but the lamb neck on a bed of lentils gets an award for best supporting role. The icing on the cake? The black garlic ice cream making the rounds on Insta: yes, it's garlicky; yes, it’s a bit weird; and yes, it was delicious.
Small plates from £4. 19 Kingly St, Carnaby, W1B 5PY; barcrispin.com