10 FABULOUS BYOB RESTAURANTS IN LONDON

Picture Source: Savvy Spice blog

A TOUCH OF HISTORY

It all started on the other side of the world: in the early 1960’s restaurants in Australia and New Zealand were the pioneers of BYO or BYOB i.e the custom of bringing your own bottle, be this wine or beer. Ten years down the line, Canada and the U.S. followed suit and paying a corkage fee for a bottle of wine became an accepted policy in American restaurants, especially in private members clubs.

In the early 90’s, New York became the first city famous for launching and promoting BYO evenings in its finest restaurants. The ideological purpose was to demystify wine and to make the whole fine food and wine combo more democratic. 15 years later, fine dining and BYO tend to go hand in hand in the States presenting high-quality food & wine matching in a more user-friendly environment than anywhere else in the world!

KEEP CALM AND BYO

London and the U.K. in general have been renowned for economical BYOB Asian eateries instead. More and more street food premises smartly fall back on the lack of an alcohol license by allowing customers to bring in their own beverage to enjoy with the food.

FINE FOOD AND YOUR OWN BOTTLE OF WINE

Due to the misunderstanding that is commonly associated with a  BYO policy, the extent of its popularity has been diminished by British diners -  a lot of restaurants are simply not interested in promoting the numerous benefits of their customers bringing along their own bottle of wine.

JOIN THE BYO REVOLUTION

Between 2009 and 2010, and thanks to some forward-thinking and multi-award winning chefs, a selected few top London Restaurants have started to encourage and promote BYO on early and mi-week evenings. More lenient on the topic than ever before, they broke the rule book of fine dining, embracing a more relaxed attitude. The democratisation of high-quality food and wine, however, has a long way to go. Hopeful and highly convinced of a cutting-edge BYO revolution, Humble Grape has researched some of the best gourmet venues in this grand city that allows BYO and has compiled a small but handy list of fine restaurants in London where you, wine lover or connoisseur, can sip that Tokaji purchased on your last foray to Hungary or celebrate your birthday with that dusty bottle of 1990 Claret from the cellar.

Picture Source: BYO Bottles

3 GREAT REASONS FOR RESTAURANTS TO ENCOURAGE BYO

1. Spice up your quiet Sunday, Monday or Tuesday nights with greater footfall of customers passionate about excellent wine in a relaxed atmosphere where they can enjoy a fantastic, chilled out evening discussing their recent wine adventures to Lebanon or Lussac-St-Emilion.
2. You will quickly engage and open the door to a huge network of people, not just ‘foodies’ but more specifically wine lovers, connoisseurs, members of the press and the wine trade. And they will bring friends!
3. Customer satisfaction will naturally improve and in turn the rewards to your restaurant. From a mutual understanding of these new customers’ needs, you will discover that first time visitors will quickly become regulars and loyal clients will easily grow.
WHY CUSTOMERS SHOULD BYO WHEN FINE DINING
1. Let’s be honest; most restaurants’ wine lists cannot satisfy every single wine lovers taste buds. Sure Sommeliers excel at pointing you in the right direction according to your own personal taste and the style of food you are eating but not all bases can be covered at all times.
2. Business people working in the city dine out regularly, up to 3 or 4 times a week. As a customer you would relish the chance to dust off a special bottle and treat a visiting colleague or new client to a wine hand-selected from their wine travels that has been lovingly stored in your cellar.
3. As a customer you will not be limited to your chosen BYO bottle of course as there is always the restaurants excellent wine menu to compliment your private selection.
4.  And finally, what a pleasure to celebrate a special occasion by popping open that well-kept bottle that was given you by a dear friend and that you still have not had the chance to open yet!

ETIQUETTE IS KEY

It’s not just about saving money, it is also about sharing your wine and the story behind it. So it comes naturally that there is no need to rub that in: you shall not pick something from a local corner store or worse, arrive with a bottle that is already listed!

PLAN & RESEARCH

First up, try a place you tend to frequent often or if it is your first time, explain how special that bottle feels to you and your personal connection to it. In both cases it is essential to plan ahead and request permission from the restaurant in advance. Obviously it helps to be familiar with their wine list well before the visit so you can select a wine that is unique.

BE GENEROUS & ENGAGING

You love wine and are being kindly allowed to enjoy it away from the comfort of your own home, therefore act as if you were attending a dinner party and share it! You could offer a taste to the Sommelier in order to establish the soundness of the wine and its pairing to a certain dish.

AND FINALLY, REWARD

If you enjoyed a moderate corkage fee the saving can go towards the final gratuity. The Sommelier is treating you with professionality and accuracy as they would  with any other customer. Great service should be rewarded!

Picture Source: straight.com
FIRST-CLASS BYO RESTAURANTS IN LONDON
Who: The Hawksmoor 
Corkage: £25 Tue-Sun
When: Monday Night Club £5
Where: Spitalfields, Seven Dials, Guildhall , Air Street
Nearest Tube: Liverpool Street, Piccadilly Circus, Covent Garden.
***
Who: Nopi
Corkage: £25
Where: 21-22 Warwick Street W1B 5NE
Phone: 020 7494 9584
Nearest tube: Piccadilly Circus
***
Who: Rochelle Canteen
Corkage: on request
When: Monday to Friday at lunch
Where: Rochelle School Arnold Circus, London E2 7ES
Phone: 020 7729 5677
Nearest Tube: Shoreditch High Street
***
Who: The Don Restaurant & Bistro
Corkage: on request
When: Monday night
Where: The Courtyard, 20 St Swithin's lane EC4N 8AD
Phone: 020 7626 2606
Nearest tube: Bank
***
Who: L’Anima
Corkage: £ 25 a bottle, one bottle for each table.
When: anytime
Where: 1 Snowden St. Broadgate West EC2A 2DQ
Phone: 020 7422 7000
Nearest Tube: Liverpool Street
***
Who: Sixty One
Corkage: free
When: Monday nights
Where:61 Upper Berkeley St, London W1H 7PP
Phone: 020 7958 3222
Nearest Tube: Marylebone
***
Who: Kitchen W8
Corkage: free
When: Sunday Night
Where: 1-13 Abingdon Road
Phone: 02079370120
Nearest Tube: High Street Kensington
***
Who: Entree Battersea
Corkage: £5 a bottle, £10 for sparkling
When: Tuesday & Wednesday night
Where: 2 Battersea Rise, SW11 1ED
Phone: 020 722235147
Nearest Tube: Clapham Junction
***
Who: Tumnan Thai
[Editor's note: This restaurant does not offer the BYOB option anymore because they are fully licensed (update Oct. 12, 2015)]
Corkage: £5
When: every night of the week
Where: 163 Lavender Hill, London SW11 5QH
Phone: 020 7223 1046
Nearest tube: Clapham Junction
***
Who: Chez Bruce
Corkage: £25
When: on request
Where: 2 Bellevue Rd, Wandsworth Common, SW17 7EG
Phone: 020 8672 0114
Nearest tube: Balham
***
Who: The Guildford Arms
[Editor's note: This restaurant does not offer the BYOB option anymore (update June 3, 2015)]
Corkage: £12- £15
When: anytime (request in advance)
Where: 55 Guildford Grove, Greenwich, London, SE10 8JY 
Phone: 020 8691 6293 
Nearest tube: Greenwich
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This article was first published on Humble Grape blog.
We thank James Dawson and Sofia Sagripanti for their work and we invite you to read their first article on our blog: "To Drink or to Invest, that is the Question".
Humble Grape will be launching a brand-new free eGuide about the best London BYO Restaurants.
Tell us your BYO experience and which places you have been to.
Email: sofia@humblegrape.co.uk