***This bar has now closed***
Looking for somewhere to drink great wine in London? Read our review of friendly wine-focussed restaurant Sapling in Dalston
Sapling in a nutshell: A sleek but friendly wine bar and restaurant serving new-wave vintages.
Where is it? Dalston, a five-minute walk from Haggerston overground station.
What’s the vibe? Despite being located on one of the scruffier patches of Kingsland Road, Sapling is anything but, with teal-coloured velvet chairs, brass accents and on-trend terrazzo-topped tables. Service is friendly and knowledgeable, but not pushily so.
What’s the drinks menu like? There’s a weekly changing list of around 36 organic, biodynamic and low-intervention wines. All are, pleasingly, available by the glass. There’s also a large list of more than 100 wines available by the bottle. Read our guide to natural and low-intervention wines here.
Which wines to order at Sapling? A crisp 2017 Stapleton-Springer Orange de Pinot Noir, from the Czech Republic, tinged with a delicate rose hue, was perfectly balanced, with soft strawberry fruits. Another orange wine that impressed was a deeply fragrant glass of 2015 Slobodne Deviner, from Slovakia, which had lush peach notes. We also tried an Italian Pieropan ‘La Rocca’ Soave Classico 2015, which had a rounded butteriness.
Is there any food? The food at Sapling is as much of a draw as the wine. Head chef Jon Beeharry (formerly Bistrotheque, Market Café) has crafted a pithy menu of sharing plates, as well as a tempting roster of British charcuterie (make your own here) and seasonal cheeses. Smoked garlic gougères (think savoury profiteroles) came filled with lightly whipped cream, topped with a snowy blanket of grated parmesan. Light yet explicitly decadent, it’s a must order.
Elsewhere, charred friggitelli peppers were stuffed with a creamy salt cod brandade, while a rainbow-hued salad of super-fresh heritage tomatoes were pepped up by peppercorns, mint and shiso leaves. Marinated, slow-cooked lamb neck paired immaculately with a fermented fennel and wild garlic salad that added an intriguing briny tang, while from the cheese and charcuterie menu we enjoyed air-dried smoked mutton, seaweed and cider salami, and a zesty yet creamy Golden Cross unpasteurised goat’s cheese.
Where to go nearby for dinner: If the dishes at Sapling don’t tempt you then head a few doors down to Rotorino for southern Italian cooking. Click here for more Italian restaurants in London.
Insider tip: If anything from the longer, 100-strong wine list catches your fancy but you don’t want to buy a bottle, don’t panic. The restaurant uses the Coravin system so you can still enjoy a glass of whatever you like from the list.
Price: From £6.20 for a glass of wine.
Words by Hannah Guinness