Wine bar and “conscious” cooking: it may sound like an oxymoron but inspired by LA, West Wine seek to pair the two inside, or on top of, a very unlikely spot. Promoting minimal food waste, seasonal ingredients, and sustainable suppliers, the ethos behind West Wine wins ticks on all levels – well, six to be precise given its location in the “concrete jungle” of Peckham Levels, a trendy new car park space in SE London.
Peckham seems to be reusing car parks all over the show: Frank’s Café, on top of another empty concrete carcass, has become a rooftop summer institution of sorts. Trendy youth from every corner of London seem to flock to this spot of SE15 to enjoy long evenings and aperitifs. Peckham Levels, though, has more strings to its bow than a natural wine bar: set across floors one to six of an old car park, it aims to be a new day and night-time hotspot, bringing street-food traders, bars, cafes, live music, galleries, salons and fitness studios to one space. Wildflower, also on Level 6 but in a more tucked away location, is a vegetarian and vegan café. My companion and I enjoyed a drink here afters: kombucha iced tea anyone? Retrospectively, this was a very wise choice to welcome the start of spring proper!
Back to West Wine, alongside a couple of glasses of very light white wine (emphasis added – the tones were mellow, borderline diluted), my companion and I ordered a selection of small plates and tacos to share (£8 each). The tacos were probably the highlight of the evening for me: one with halloumi, and another with artichoke, both sitting atop of a wonderfully bite-sized blue corn tortilla. Fun and fresh, tacos always bring a smile to my face, especially when their made with 100% blue corn flour. Each could probably have done with a creamy note, though, whether in the form of avocado or otherwise.
Onto the plates, we went for the Roasted Heirloom Carrots (£8) served with a poblano chilli feta dip and crema, alongside a Turmeric Roasted Cauliflower (£8) with ancho chilli crema and black sesame. Cauliflower and I seem to have a good thing going on of late: from the plate or two I enjoyed at Delamina (on which, see here), to the murdered steak at Passo (on which, see here), West Wine have added another variation to the theme, with its USP being the vividly black sesame dip. The plate was a feast for the eyes and the palette. I loved its creamy texture and the seasoning was spot on.
Whilst the carrots had a similarly successful herby, creamy dip, I felt the carrots were very under-roasted. They lacked the depth and sweetness of a well-roasted root.
Creative and community driven, an evening at Peckham Levels felt like going to Brixton five years ago – when it was still “up and coming” rather than already risen. The crowd here was young and the music very loud, probably not best suited for an LA inspired natural wine bar. We could barely here the sommelier describe the wines on offer.
West Wine is an all-day eatery and I think it probably works best in its current location as a brunch spot, especially given the prices of its evening menu – our bill totalled around £75 in the end. Although we made the mistake of ordering two glasses of wine each, rather than just settling for a bottle at the outset, the prices seem stiff given its Peckham location and compared with the Peckhamplex round the corner! For small plates and wines to match, I think this haunt – which has great potential – would work better as an intimate restaurant proper.
WEST Wine, Level 6, Peckham Levels, 95a Rye Lane, SE15 4ST