Looking for wine bars in Oxford? Read our review of Pompette, a stylish European bar and restaurant with a varied wine list.
Pompette in a nutshell: Stylish, European wine bar and restaurant – named after the French word for tipsy – from husband-and-wife team Pascal and Laura Wiedemann.
Where is it? Summertown, Oxford
What’s the vibe?
Pompette, set in one of Oxford’s smarter suburbs, makes a good first impression. An expansive, light-filled space, with wooden floors and sleek navy-blue walls (plus masses of quirky art – our favourite a Poirot line drawing), drinkers can perch on high chairs at the inkily hued bar, or sit at spaciously arranged tables alongside.
What’s the drinks menu like at Pompette?
Head chef Pascal helped open acclaimed new-wave London wine bar Terroirs (he also put in a stint at Racine and ran the kitchen at Six Portland Road) so the wine list is predictably interesting, a collection of Pascal and Laura’s favourite regions, styles and producers, with natural and low-intervention wines, as well as more classic ones. There’s an emphasis on France, but the menu still covers a lot of geography, from English fizz to Spanish manzanilla sherry and Georgian orange wine. There’s lots available by the glass (some starting as low as £3.50 for 125ml) and carafe, plus more to try via Coravin (just ask for a list of what’s available).
Which wines to order?
An Austrian pét nat – a 2016 Fuchs und Hase, Vol 4 – made the perfect aperitif, with its delicate apple notes and moussey bubbles, while a 2017 Vigneau-Chevreau Vouvray chenin blanc was flinty and mineral. Moving on to red, a Ridge Geyserville 2010 was marvellous – seductively earthy, spicy and crammed with dark fruit. For dessert, a Classic Tokaji Late Harvest 2009 was luxuriously rich and sweet, yet had a balancing acidity that made it very drinkable.
Is there any food?
The food at Pompette is gloriously French, with an emphasis on the hearty cuisine of Alsace, where Pascal’s family is from. The bar menu is simple but refined and indulgent (chips with rouille, anyone?). Highlights include charred little toasts topped with unashamedly thick slabs of pale butter, shallot rings and whole anchovies – deliciously salty and fatty, and devoured within seconds. A slab-like terrine de maison, studded with pistachios, is filled with succulent morsels of pork, chicken and veal, and comes with the creamiest of celeriac remoulades. For lighter nibbles, try buttery Nocellara olives, or choose from a menu of super-silky charcuterie. Check our our round up of the best UK wine bars that serve food here.
If drinks morph into dinner you can order off the à la carte menu at the bar, if you like (or move to the dining area at the other side of the restaurant). A tartare-like dish of seared beef, given the lightest kiss of heat, then chopped and tossed with lemon and rosemary, comes draped in a translucent lardo blanket. Tender halibut swims in a luxurious beurre blanc pepped up by cucumber and dill, while poulet au Riesling is a huge platter of tender chook, spätzle (small German dumplings) and a creamy sauce lent perkiness by a fruity riesling (a 2016 Albert Mann Riesling Tradition) that’s also on the wine menu – so make sure you order it to drink alongside.
Price: From £3.50 for a glass of wine.
Words by Hannah Guinness
Photographs by John Carey