From the outside, Martello Hall looks like a fairly regular East End boozer. Perhaps a gastropub.
But inside it’s a very different story. The decor still fits, with cosy booths, exposed bricks, a bar flanked with stools and a generous row of taps — plus a steady buzz.
But these taps don’t serve beer. Instead all twelve of them are dedicated to wine, meaning Martello Hall has the biggest selection of tap wine in the UK, or indeed anywhere outside of America — pretty impressive.
These wines are regularly-changing, and chalked up on a blackboard (well, alright a mirror - this is East London) just as beers might be.
On our visit picks included an earthy Nero d'Avola and a slightly tangy, natural Cahors in red, and an English Bacchus in white.
Each one that we tried rather interesting in its own way — a result of careful selection by wine consultant Zeren Wilson, as well as a tendency by producers at the forefront of tap wine towards natural and creative products. And for what it was, each was also notably inexpensive — no doubt thanks to reduced shipping, bottling and wastage costs by virtue of being on tap. The selection started at £4.90 a glass, rising to £8.60.
There’s nothing standard about the food offering, either.
There are pizzas with brilliantly chewy sourdough bases, cured Italian meats, some antipasti options and a fairly eclectic selection of sharing plates. These take in a notably succulent short rib served with a refreshing lemony take on kimchi, and a down-right delicious merguez scotch egg along with buttermilk fried chicken and smoked mackerel with pickles.
Special mention must also got to the baby bomboloni — mini doughnuts — served in a cute fairground-style bag, with Nutella for dipping.
Go in a group, order a selection of everything and work your way through the wines. At Martello Hall all the good stuff really is on tap.
Martello Hall: The lowdown
Final flavour: A foodie boozer where the wine flows like beer.
At what cost? Pizzas start at £8, while sharing plates range from £5 to £16. Wines start at £4.90 a glass.
Find it: 137 Mare Street, E8 3RH; martellohall.com.