I don’t often venture so far eastwards, even/especially on a Friday evening, but wine bar (and it turns out foodie paradise) Sager + Wilde on Bethnal Green’s Paradise Row (yes, infinity with the street name) had been on my radar for a while. Since my media savvy foodie friend from school seemed very keen, why not?! Named after its founder, Michael, Sager + Wilde offers cocktails, by-the-glass wines and bottles, whilst the restaurant prepares Italianate seasonal plates and a bowl of pasta and house wine for £10 everyday between 5pm and 7pm. So it turned out we really lucked out with our timely arrival ten minutes before the cut off! As they say, early bird catches the worm, or in this case pasta fresca.
Down a cobbled street and underneath a railway arch housing a stream of oh so very on trend bar-restaurants, this place is sleek, modern and uber cool. I felt slightly out of place compared the wider crowd, effortlessly stylish and looking oh so relaxed – as though this is just the kind of place they casually head to on a Friday night and who all know each other. Even the use of the “+” sign in their title, as opposed to “&” – which I find slightly more formal – hints at their understated coolness. Outside, where we sat, rows of picnic benches with fairy lights hanging over ensure plenty of space for diners and drinkers. Inside, meanwhile, everything from the bar made of pavement lights to the array of grills and slicers in the tiny kitchen behind oozed East London vibes – an ideal way to see in the weekend.
Obviously, the wine is what makes Sager + Wilde famous. Though their original branch on Hackney Road is vino focused, the list here spans more than 250 bottles and features a prominent selection of organic wines and orange wine, and pushes natural and biodynamic options (though I’m still not exactly sure what these are…). Although wines by the glass are well chosen and keenly priced, we just went for house white which didn’t disappoint. Rounded, summery and fresh, it’s just what you need alongside a bowl of pasta on a balmy summery evening.
Since we were taking advantage of the early bird special, my companion and I each went for a bowl of…pasta Fresca. My pappardelle with slow cooked tomato, basil and pine nuts and the essential Parmesan shavings was everything pasta should be: simple, al dente, well-seasoned and fresh. The pappardelle were perfect carrier for the tomato sauce, each strand forming a hearty ribbon shape, twirling around the bowl and so elegantly carrying the flavours. Plus, eating al fresco makes everything taste better. Truth.
The ingredients were clearly well-sourced, well assembled and beautifully served. This comes as no surprise: Chris Leach is behind this.
Wine bar. Pasta fresca. East London. This is a great place to call into and spend far longer in than initially intended. Head here for an evening that will leave you feeling super chilled.
Sager + Wilde, 250 Paradise Row, E2 9LE