Last Updated on December 21, 2022
Wine, Craft Cocktails and Grazing Boards in Richmond
How do you decide where to meet up with friends? Generally, being easy to arrange, we head to central London where prices are higher and chatrooms can be more expensive. With a little planning, there may be better options. Richmond is one of those places that is much more accessible than you may realize. With both underground and ground connections, it takes me about 16 minutes from Waterloo to get to the Richmond train station – and my friends who live in South West are even closer. Find a bar like Chalk Richmond, a stone’s throw from the station and there’s really no reason to fight the Chelsea crowd or struggle to find a seat in Soho, though I admit I’d be happier if there was Chalk within walking distance of the house. It’s also quite close to the Orange Tree Theatre, so keep in mind for drinks and food before or after theatre.
The first thing I noticed was a real candle – one that flickered, dripped wax, and filled the room with a lovely winter scent. Then, chalkboard painted panels with chalk streaks, shabby chic warehouse-style interior and comfortable leather seats. It’s a relaxing place where I can easily see myself spending the evening…
I happened to be early and, while I tried heroically not to drink alcohol until my friends arrived, all good intentions were thwarted very quickly when I looked at the menu. I picked up a glass of JJ Bulle Blanche sparkling wine from Domaine des Jeanne.
One of the great features of Chalk is that they have an entire section on their website where you can explore more about the wines you have been drinking. In the case of JJ Bulle Blanche, I learned that it comes from the Domaine des Jeannes, the vineyard started by Lord Mervyn and Lady Jeanne Davies and named after Mervyn’s head winemaker’s wife, Jeanne, and their friend and co-winemaker’s daughter, daughter Alex ‘Petite Jeanne’ . Each of their wines starts with ‘JJ’ to pay homage to both Jeannes. This light sparkling wine is based on Ugni blanc and Vermentino – and for £6.00 a glass or £31 a bottle, you can enjoy that too! A large portion of Petit Lucques Green Olives and I happily sat and people watched while waiting for my companion.
By the time he arrived I had already decided to order a cocktail. We pick cocktails with seasonal colors that are just right for celebrating the festive season. Both are absolutely amazing: Bright green, Natsu, and Christmas red Acorn & Rosehip. Delicate Natsu is referred to as “exhilarating, fragrant and floral” and is naturally refreshing with a blend of Japanese melon, distillate sansho pepper, clarified yuzu, lime and jasmine. The stronger acorn and rosehip distillate blended with Sapling Gin and vermouth is bitter and warm – perfect for a cold winter’s night. You’ll find lots of unique cocktails, with a twist from their house spirits including Sorrel Vermouth, Jam Vodka or Peanut Butter Rum.
The emphasis is on natural wines and craft cocktails and the food offering supports this with delicious, savory snacks, cheese and charcuterie boards and a fine line of antipasti. We chose the large Plowman’s Board with Chevre, Comte Jeune and Gruyere along with Soppressata, Bresaola and Coppa (accompanied by chili jam, cornichons and lots of biscuits and bread) all of which proved to be more than enough for two people. (we also made a dent in a dish of Puglian Borettane onions and some baby violets for the artichoke hearts).
The wine list is short, varied, of good quality and reasonably priced. Glasses from £5.00 for 125ml Chin Chin vinho verde. Perfect! We drink red and white Alchymist. I was really intrigued by the tasting notes on the site. From there we learn that it took Valérie Courrèges only her short time as a chemistry student to realize that nearby oenology students had more fun than chemists. That combined with memories of making wine with her grandfather in Ossun, Southwest France, led Valérie to a colorful and exciting career as a winemaker. After a stint at Viña Los Vascos, followed by Opus One, he landed a role as head winemaker for Château Fontainebleau. This is where he was able to hone his skills as a biodynamic winemaker. Today he makes wines under his own label, and the Alchymist blanc (100% Vermentino) is fresh, a mouthful of minerals while the Alchymist blush has a nutty roundness that blends beautifully with the charcuterie.
The champagne list includes one very special house. I recently learned more about Frerejean Frères on a tasting so was delighted to see the Brut Premier Cru and Rose Premier Cru both at a reasonable £15 a glass. The founders of Frerejean Frères are members of the Taittinger family – Guillaume, Richard, and Rodolphe Frerejean-Taittinger, who started making champagne for friends and family when they sold the Taittinger business. They established their new home in 2005 and focused on producing champagne from Chardonnay and Pinot Noir only. They are based in the village of Grand Cru in Avize and have a unique approach to Champagne in that they are able to take a new approach yet retain the family heritage of respecting and fully understanding traditional methods. If you visit Chalk Richmond I recommend trying a glass or two!
Although the Christmas Cocktails menu is still being put together, we had to try one special seasonal cocktail – the Christmas Day Sazerac, an eerie mix of distillery Christmas Pudding, cognac and rye, bourbon, creme de vermouth and absinthe! I can assure you it was delicious – so much so that I forgot to take a picture so I used a press shot!
The ingredients are individually prepared in the Chalk cocktail laboratory using the latest Rotavapor technology. For the Sazerac Christmas Day cocktail, Christmas pudding is infused with brandy before being gently heated in a water bath before entering the rotovap.
If you think all of this sounds more Soho or Shoreditch than Richmond, you might be right. Co-founders Becky Downing and Adam Lock aim to open in several London areas. Becky is an award-winning start-up founder and serial entrepreneur while Adam spent six years as Bar Manager of The Groucho Club in Soho and was part of the team famous for creating breathable Gin & Tonic clouds during his time with a multi-sensory experience. teacher Bompas & Parr.
Where next? I’ll be watching closely and hoping for Elephant or Kennington. Meanwhile, once the weather is nice enough to sit outside (if not before), I think I should head back…
Lime is open Monday to Thursday 17.00-23.00, Friday 17.00-12.30, Saturday 12.00-12.30 and Sunday 12.00-23.00.
Richmond Bar Lime
3 Dukes Street,
Richmond TW9 1HP