‘EastEnders’ fans: you know Albert Square? Well, it’s named after this Shepherd’s Bush wine bar. Set just down the road from the old BBC Television Centre, the soap’s writers used to drink here in the ’80s. And while it’s been spruced up a bit since then – the look’s a little more chic than the Queen Vic – there’s a certain cosiness about the place that makes it feel like a local.
A white-walled, wide-windowed room on the ground floor of a slender Victorian townhouse, there’s a little wooden bar at the back, and lots of low, round tables lined with dark polished church pews. Current owner Allegra McEvedy remembers going to pick out those very pews with her mother Sarah, who started the bar back in 1978 (yup, Albertine’s back in the family) and they look well-loved. Allegra’s refurbished the place but preserved its soul: the vibe is charming and understated, with the focus firmly on the excellent wine list.
If you know nothing about plonk don’t panic: the staff here will hold your hand. I started with a recommendation of Rosa Del Rosa rosé from northern Italy. My waitress described this as ‘minerally’, one of those words people use about wine that I’ve always pretended to understand. Half a glass down and I finally got it: crisp, light, lip-smacking savouriness that makes you think of earth and rain. Next up was a strong, heady pinot noir from Austria, which went brilliantly with rich, paper-thin parma ham and sweet melon. Albertine’s got a restaurant proper upstairs, but the bar menu is excellent – taking in everything from charcuterie to linguine to lovely oily grilled sardines. Shepherd’s Bush isn’t exactly famed for its food and drink, so Albertine is a winey oasis in the desert. Pull up a pew: you’ll want to stay forever.