47 Villiers Street, Charing Cross
Between Charing Cross underground station and the Thames
Open Mon-Sat 11:00a to 11:00p; Sun Noon-10:00p
Gordon’s is reported to be London’s oldest wine bar. Duck into the darkened cellar, lit only by candles in old wine bottles, and you step back to (rather shabby) Victorian times. The bar offers a wide selection of wines from around the world, both by the glass and bottle. It also offers port and sherry decanted from barrels above the bar. In fact, wine is the only beverage served here – no beer or spirits.
The building dates back to the 1680s and was once the house of diarist Samuel Pepys (1660-1703). Later Rudyard Kipling moved into one of the apartments upstairs (before the establishment of the wine bar in 1890, it served as the house’s cellar). Kipling wrote “The Light that Failed” in the parlor above the cellar bar (an appropriate title, given the lack of light). Down the flight of creaky stairs one comes to a counter offering a variety of fresh salads, patés, cheeses, pickles and mustards, all served up with long French baguettes. Then it’s off to find a table in the warren of booths in the wine bar. It’s dark and dank down there, but that’s entirely the point.