Down a cobbled street banked by estate agents, a petrol station and a wall of graffiti, the approach to Sager + Wilde’s second branch hardly screams fine dining. But that’s the charm of London. The crummy can sit with the flash, so you never know when you’re going to stumble upon a real gem.
Paradise Row is one of those: a place where railway arches house a bevy of trendy bar-restaurants, one of which was taken over back in 2014 by Michael Sager (now the sole owner) and Charlotte Wilde. The duo, who spent much of their lives visiting vineyards around the world, put together an intimidatingly vast wine list that, thankfully, the staff know as well as the owners. My barrage of questions about the best white to pair with pork were met confidently – a fresh, pear-hinting Saladini Pilastri Falerio from Marche, Italy, if you’re wondering.
Abundant beverages aside, this Sager + Wilde is very much about the food. Having enlisted the talents of Sebastian Myers (formerly of Chiltern Firehouse), the menu comprises British dishes with European flourishes. The grilled cut of Iberico pork was a particular highlight; teamed with black trompettes and hispi cabbage, each mouthful popped with salty-sour flavourings, levelled off beautifully by the sweetness of the red apple jus.
Despite the industrial setting, the vibe is inviting. Neatly lined-up wooden tables are lit by candlelight and a few low-hanging bulbs. Service was impeccable – our waitress happily (and patiently) explained the sizing of the large and small plates, and wine glasses were kept topped up without my lifting a finger. The atmosphere was so pleasant that I prolonged my visit with a mellow, creamy Rollright cheese and delicate homemade oat crackers just to savour the surroundings. Sager + Wilde isn’t somewhere you simply pop into for dinner – you stay for the experience.