For those of you who haven’t heard, it’s all about self-service these days. Forget waiting to be shown to a table, hanging around for frazzled staff to take your order, or queuing impatiently at a crowded bar – the new trend in drinking is DIY, and Vagabond is leading the charge.
Once a wine shop based in Fulham, Vagabond has monopolised on this movement in recent years, and now has six locations across central London (Paddington, Battersea, Fitzrovia, Fulham, Victoria, and Clapham). The Victoria venue has an industrial-style feel, and is well-partitioned due to the towering wine racks dotted around the room, giving the illusion of various smaller, more intimate, spaces.
The concept works on a system not dissimilar to an Oyster card. You pay a small refundable deposit at the counter, top up your card with the desired amount, and are free to use the funds on whichever wine takes your fancy! One of the great little perks of Vagabond is that all of the wines have a try before you buy option – for a minimal amount you can purchase a 50ml sample to figure out whether a wine is to your liking before committing to a glass. And for anyone who doesn’t consider themselves an amateur sommelier, there are tasting cards above each bottle to help you out (great for impressing a date). Even better, if you find a wine that you truly love, all of them are available to buy by the bottle to drink in or take home with you.
Although Vagabond is known for being a wine bar, the food is also worth mentioning. Their menu is divided into nibbles, small plates, and sharers that cover all cuisines from around the world, everything from Italian classics like arancini to Asian-style beef tataki. With over 140 (!) wines to choose from it’s important to have a pairing option to suit all palettes, and this has certainly been achieved with Vagabond’s delicious yet eclectic mix of dishes.
The Victoria Vagabond entertains a strong after-work crowd, but plenty of wine aficionados enjoy this great little chain as a casual date spot. Like many of London’s best bars and eateries, they do not take bookings. However, wait time is usually minimal, and there’s none of the faff with waiting lists either – keep your eyes peeled for an empty table in busy periods and you’ll have to grab it quickly!
Overall: 4/5 – Great concept and a lively atmosphere (it must be all that wine)
Cost: Wines range from £6-16 a glass – there’s a price to suit all budgets
Dress code: Casual
Find out more on their website.