The old Cafe Rouge building on Little Clarendon Street has gone wild, with a takeover by new wine restaurant, Wilding! We caught up with General Manager, Leigh (who you may remember from Vine Oxford), to get the lowdown.
Wilding – due to open on Little Clarendon Street later this month – certainly has us excited. The restaurant, wine bar and wine shop is founded by Kent Barker, who runs award-winning Eight Stony Street in Frome.
Wilding’s name comes from the practice of regenerating overworked land to return it to nature; such is Wilding’s intention to make as little impact on the environment as possible and they only work with the very best in agile, environmentally-responsible businesses that support this ethos.
Head of Wine is Sarah Helliwell, previously of two Michelin-starred Gidleigh Park, and Camel Valley. Sarah, also a WSET Educator (keep an eye out for wine tastings and WSET training), has been involved in the Rioja Ambassadors programme representing the wines in the UK.
Food comes from Head Chef Dominique Goltinger, an Austrian Chef who has previously worked at The Ivy, then Bistrot Bruno Loubet where he was Head Chef for four years. He cemented a love and understanding of how best to approach vegetable cooking, as Loubet mentored him throughout this time. At the same time, Dominique opened Grain Store, his vegetarian restaurant.
We can’t wait to see what he can do with a vegetable!
Long gone is the bright red paint job of Cafe Rouge; in comes a dark grey frontage that sets off the red brick beautifully. A mantras of ‘in wine we trust’ appearing over the front door and on recycled bill holders. The venue offers an atmosphere of a ‘warm, elegantly-designed, relaxed space to eat and drink great food and exciting wines’. Promo shots look rustic but elegant, with grazing boards and champagne buckets adorning wooden and metal tables.
The venue serves 80 covers, with private dining seating another 16, 20 at the bar, and 60 in the terrace. The terrace will come landscaped with flowers, herbs and vines from local vineyards.
To quote the press release directly…
Wines come courtesy of Barker and Head of Wine, Sarah Helliwell, who’s selected over 50 wines by the glass, including 10 on tap, plus a further top end list available from an enomatic dispense system.
By the glass include Arndorfer’s Unfiltered Gruner Veltliner (on tap), Vietti Barbera d’Alba, Chateau Montelena Estate Cabernet (in enomatic) and Bride Valley’s English Crèmant; all served in 175ml serves, 250ml and 500ml carafes and 750ml bottles in order to make the list as accessible as possible with glasses from £5.50 and bottles from £21.
Sustainability is at the forefront of the wine list. Both Barker and Helliwell believe that the best grapes are grown with minimal intervention and their list champions producers who are passionate about the land they cultivate and making wines that typify the unique character of their location.
The shop will offer 400 wines for sale, including fortified sherries, ports, sparkling, still, red, white, rosé and orange wines. Prices range from £7.50 – £245 to take away, and all bottles can be enjoyed on-site (£15 corkage).
I’ve also been told they’re working with Freedom of the Press – a local winery in Minster Lovell.
Food includes a menu that prioritises seasonality and local provenance; utilising a forager to bring seasonally-changing and biodiverse ingredients to the menu to enhance the strong plant-based offering.
I’ve been told to expect nibbles, skewers, grills, pizza from a wood fired oven, sharing boards and sharing roasts.
Goltinger and the team will create dishes like hand-dived scallops with seashore vegetables and wild capers, to chargrilled asparagus with Caerphilly cheese and hogweed shoot dressing. The menu also includes sharing dishes, market fish; charcuterie and seafood boards along with ex-dairy cow beef. Suppliers have been hand-selected by Goltinger to bring the best of British produce to the menu, including Westcombe Dairy, Cove Shellfish and Hogget and Boar, with the Wilding team handling butchery and fermentations in-house to minimise food waste.
Wilding Oxford opens to the publish from Wednesday 26th May, who’s planning to check it out?