Lockets: the wine bar that is taking the stuffiness out of St James’s

If you ask me would I visit a wine bar for an evening meal, my answer 90% of the time would be a no. [...]

If you ask me would I visit a wine bar for an evening meal, my answer 90% of the time would be a no. However, Lockets is no ordinary wine bar; they are brought to you by the Wiltons group. They own the institutions Wiltons which opened in 1742 and Franco’s in 1945; so you would guess it was high time, they opened their next venture.

Lockets is open from 7.30 am to 11.00 pm so you can enjoy anything from early morning breakfast to a late evening supper. They might be aiming for a casual and relaxed atmosphere but the decor is refined and elegant. The wavy monochrome flooring is an eye-catcher, whilst the amber-coloured table tops, the glass globe pendant and the soft-coloured wooden panels all add a sense of warmth to the venue. Plus, their floor-to-ceiling windows allow for plenty of natural daylight along with the obligatory people watching.

Service is effortlessly welcoming here, we were greeted in a very personable way by their Brazilian manager and in no time, she had recommended top-quality choices for our wine selection. Here, they like to recommend the more atypical, so we were offered Pinot Grigio from Slovakia. It was on the dry side with aromas of grapefruit and ripe pear which paired well with the food we ordered.

The second wine we tried was a relatively light Cabernet Sauvignon from The Cannonberg Project in South Africa. A percentage of the money from the sales of these wines goes directly to support projects within the local community in the renowned Cape Winelands. And they strongly support ethical and sustainable farming.

They have 3 different menus for breakfast, lunch, and dinner and the real discovery was their dinner menu. Most wine bars offer simple cheese and charcuterie boards to pair with their wines and they do offer those items, but their cold and hot plates were expertly executed. One suspects their chefs have been trained at either the hallowed kitchens of Wiltons or Franco’s.

The raw red prawns had a deep, vibrant hue and were flavoured with a hint of chilli oil and is a dish as good as any you will find in the heart of Sicily. For the last adventurous, they have house-cured salmon with mustard and rye bread.

The hot plate offerings were relatively vegetarian-friendly with dishes like squash risotto with burratini and sage and polenta, mushrooms and parmesan. The former had a delightful variation in texture with the squash, cheese, and healthy seeds; whilst the latter reminded me how polenta is such an underrated dish and should be eaten more often.

Lockets will no doubt join the likes of Wiltons and Franco’s as a major institution in the West End of London.


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