The Gallery Is A Natural In Westport.
Wine, Books, Vinyl and Chats.
We were walking down this narrow alley in the Westport night. And then we saw them. A trio of posh-looking black cats, padding stylishly along as if on, well, the catwalk. Then, simultaneously, they, les chats, executed the smoothest slickest synchronised slow-motion U-turn ever. We knew we were in the right place. We saw the welcoming light in the windows of The Gallery Wine Bar. Our directions had included the phrase “Look out for the cats”. I heard later that one of them is called Pinot Noir.
|Peppers and cheese tapa|
And inside, you will get various Pinot Noirs amid many listed in a catalogue of terrific wines. Generally though you work off two loose pages which indicate the wines available by the glass. But you needn’t confine yourself to those, good and all as they are. Do check out the full book and look at the shelves on the wall. You may well see something you love as I did when I spotted Ageno from La Stoppa in Italy and the delicious Lettre d’Eloise Chardonnay made by Bertrand Ambroise in the heart of France.
We entered the long and narrow space. It was quiet. But not for long. Owner-operator Tom Ramsell was missing but only for a few moments, chasing down some organic grapes in a nearby shop. We settled in on the cushioned seats, taking in a feast for the eyes and the ears (Tom’s vinyl collection gets a regular outing here). For the eyes, there are shelves of books and bottles; posters all over; take down one of those books if you want to read. Pick up a board game if you’d like to play chess, scrabble, or Jenga or one of the dozens of others available.
Tom, a surfer from Manchester, who found his way here a few years ago, will keep you entertained, telling all about his food, all organic, sourced locally (Dozio’s cheese, for instance) and abroad (rare syrups, a rare black cheese from England’s Wookey Hole). And then the wines will lead to endless conversations especially if you have that extra bit of interest. They have regular tastings here and lots of other events too including live music, record launches and more. It’s a lively spot for sure.
More and more people are arriving and soon the long narrow space is more or less full. By then, we have ordered a couple of tapas and a couple of wines: Bodegas Menade, Rueda ‘Verdejo for her and Beauregard-Mirouze, Corbiéres ‘Campana’ for me.
The tapas are not small and our two multi-bite selections are Piquanté peppers served with Dozio’s of Mayo soft cheese and a spoon of honey, and a plateful of organic medjool dates with walnuts and served with a rare organic agave syrup.
|A most diverse selection of organic, biodynamic, natural and skin contact wines|
There is no cooking here, all dishes are assembled on the counter by Tom himself. He offers a selection of Vegan Plates and we enjoy the superb Baked Moroccan Falafels (described as an elegant blend of Moroccan spices and chickpeas, red peppers, apricots and dates, served with organic Kimchi and organic “spiritual” salad leaves).
The Gallery is also a venue for chats about the environment and sustainability and the future of the planet. Tom is all for organic and natural and saving resources. He’ll take in any old mugs or cups you don’t want and use them here for teas and coffees. He also runs a refill wine service. Bring your own bottle or use one of his.
And you’ll see his ethical streak in most of the food here especially under the Ethical Meat Dish heading and the Sustainable Fish heading. We shared one of the meat dishes: Labourdette Goose Rillettes. These geese are grown in total freedom on lush meadows and are not force-fed. The dish is served with marinated fig (superb), sweet ready to eat black garlic cloves, Velvet Cloud’s sheep cheese with fig and sultan mini-toasts. Quite a treat!
Bt then of course we had moved on to another round of wine, this time enjoying very much the Cantine Rallo, Ciello Bianco ‘Catarratto’ Terre Siciliane IGP, a lovely white; and the excellent Semplicemente red (his white is terrific too), from the late Stefano Bellotti’s winery in Piemonte. My rosso was on its last legs as Tom passed and, before I knew it, he had topped me up generously with the last bit in the bottle. That’s the kind of place this is. Generous, friendly. If you happen to find yourself in the Westport area, do drop in.
* By the way, if you’d like something warm while here, there’s an arrangement with a local pizzeria. Just have your pizza delivered and you may eat it in the Gallery.
The Gallery Café, Wine and Tapas Bar https://thegallerywestport.com/
|The company bikes.|