Gordon’s Wine Bar is the kind of place that one may have thought impossible to find in London nowadays. I certainly did, until I was introduced to it last week.
The original ‘Gordon’ was Angus Stafford Gordon who opened the bar in 1890. Three generations later, it is run by Simon Gordon, son of Wendy Gordon, wife of Luis Gordon, who took it over from Angus – and it is not only surviving, but thriving. Intimidatingly surrounded by Costa, Starbucks, and all manner of chain-emporiums, it is detectible only by an inconspicuous little entrance, yet the antiquarian wine bar manages to holds it’s own. Through the door and down the stairs is, arguably, the most charming and intriguing “hangout” in London. It has a musty wine cellar atmosphere and scent, candle-lighting, old wooden furniture and contented customers supping good quality wines – at all hours of the day. It is hard not to be curious about the history of the building. Whilst I was there, we mused over our Merlot as to its initial purpose. Wine cellar and prison were proposed, but nobody knew for sure. In fact, the history is slightly less creepy, though no less colourful. It was built to be a warehouse in the 1790’s, but the last few centuries have seen it acting as shops and homes to such distinguished residents as Samuel Pepys and Rudyard Kipling, apart from a few years in the 1680’s after it was burnt down by a fire which started in the York Buildings Waterworks. It also has a seedy past, literally and figuratively speaking. In the 1700’s, a firm of seedsmen owned it as a warehouse until the building became landlocked, and in the early 1900’s, Alfred Frederick Joyce was convicted for running a brothel in the building. In more recently years, the bars charm has attracted the likes of Lawrence Olivier and Vivien Leigh. Though it will not benefit me to tell you the location of this wonderful little wine bar, I shall. I recommend the Concha y Toro Cabernet Sauvignon, and the cheese board – although, on all accounts, they do not provide enough bread.