After smashing their target of a modest £5,000 on Kickstarter, the A Grape Night In Girls have opened their new home in Tooting Market after several years of a nomadic existence popping up all over South London.
We went along on Thursday night (9th July) to find out more and see if all the fuss was worth it. I’m happy to say it was, as long as you set your expectations at the right level. Tooting Market is after all a working market that hasn’t really been known for being a foodie enclave. Personally I’ve always loved the market as it has character in spades, something that is being lost in other markets around London, but they’re still taking a risk choosing this location.
As with Tooting generally things are changing in the market, a recent addition is Breakfast & Burgers which has a Honest Burgers circa 2012 feel about it. Not that they are copying, quite the opposite as they seem to be doing it their way, which was the same reason Honest Burgers felt so cool back in the day. We’ll be going there to see if it lives up to my current romantic ideals some other time, but it could be that A Grape Night In have picked just the right time to set up in the market. On the evidence of Thursday night I’m inclined to think it was very much a risk worth taking, especially if the market manages to find a healthy balance of old and new.
The first thing that struck me was not only how many people made it there in spite of the Tube strike, but also how much they had crammed into such a tiny space without it feeling cramped. Wines of various prices (all very reasonable btw) lined the left hand side, whilst their pop up residency kitchen took up the right. In front of the wine you’ll find a large table perfect for wine tasting events or just for people to sit together and drink and eat.
To add to that there were a number of tables and chairs jutting out into the main market concourse, giving it a outside / inside feel. Plus there also a large space in the center of the market which could also be used (assuming they are allowed) You can see their vision for the place, it’s different without being poncy and it is sympathetic to it’s surroundings so it doesn’t feel out of place.
During the evening I had the pleasure of meeting some of their Kickstarter investors, may of which didn’t even live local to Tooting but have been to their events and just wanted to support them. A notable mention to the School of Wok who are big fans of A Grape Night In and Back Door Kitchen based on our shared appreciation of the food they served on the night.
It goes without saying that I also got to sample a number of the wines, I wish I could name them all but I’m not going to lie they were all lovely and I was having such a good time I didn’t really care what they were. Which is I guess the whole point, it might have been a trial opening night but I was unwineding and feeling relaxed, after a while I forgot I was even in a market, not that it mattered. Their wine selection was impressive for many reasons, the price was very reasonable, most of them have cool labels and stories behind them. I could have spent the whole night looking at all the wines and reading about them, a bit like a funky wine library.
Aside from the wines A Grape Night In are having a resident Pop Up every month, the first being Back Door Kitchen, one of our long time favourites and they are providing their take on Italian food until 2nd August. We only got to sample some of the dishesbut what we tried was fantastic, by far and away the stand out dish was the lamb!! Get the lamb, get the lamb!!!
Unwined is open during the week and late on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights. Check their website for more info
Before you get to my final rating for Unwined, here’s Back Door Kitchens menu which has 12 items and each dish is paired to a wine.
Taralli – Crunchy and savoury bread snacks from Southern Italy
Nocellara olives – Sweet green olives from Sicily
Peperoni ripieni – Sweet roast bell peppers stuffed with Tuna, parsley, capers and anchovies
Fegatini alla Veneziana – Crostini of chopped Chicken liver slowly cooked in Balsamic vinegar and sweet onion
The Kraken – Grilled Mediterrenean octopus, chorizo, charred pickled carrots, parsley, lime and burnt chorizo mayonnaise, smoked paprika
Puglia I love you – smoked burrata, southern Italian style ratatouille and red pepper essence
The Nathan – Duck served with sweet potato, horseradish, caramelised baby beetroot, ginger and beetroot jus
The Silk Route – Pan fried white fish fillet on a bed of basil scented fennel, fresh chilli, lime, served with orange and cumin sauce and spinach water
Pollo Cacciatore 2.0 – chicken supreme stuffed with chicken liver and Turkey mousse, wrapped in San Daniele ham and served with broadbeans and thyme, rosemary and honey mustard cream
All roads lead to Rome – slow cooked lamb neck fillet served with withered kale, Artichoke crisps, girolle and a luscious red wine and wild Roman mint gravy
Roasted Apricot , Apricot gelato, oats, marmalade
Selection of Italian cheeses – Torta Mascarpone and Gorgonzola dolce (a Mascarpone and Mild sweet Gorgonzola layered cake), Brunet (a creamy ewe’s milk cheese from Northern Italy)
Unwined - By A Grape Night In
Unwined has success written all over it as long as people take that short trip inside Tooting Market. The wine, the food and the atmosphere all come together to make it my new go to place in Tooting.