Cafe Luc, wine on tap
Wine on tap. Can I have one of those for my flat, please? While it might be unreasonable to have a 10 litre keg of wine in my flat, it’s a very good idea for restaurant house wines. Think of it, minimal wastage, stays fresh for at least a week and is very economical as the wine comes in a wine cask that can be easily and quickly refilled.
The owner of Cafe Luc, Luc van Oostende is originally from Belgium and founded the original Cafe Luc in Ghent 13 years ago. His aim was to have a modern European brasserie, serving quality food and wine. So where does wine on tap come into the equation if it’s supposed to be “quality” wine? Well, I’ll tell you. Cafe Luc have a long standing relationship with their very own supplier, Charles Grisar, who has managed to source some very good house wines that are technically speaking, “bag in box.” Bag in box does have a rather harsh reputation but I see no problem with them if the wine itself is well made. We’re not talking premier cru but entry level French wines are in general quite drinkable.
There have 7 wines on tap. 4 whites and 3 reds. Cafe Luc uses only one supplier and his wines are all French. The 4 whites are a Cote de Duras s. blanc, a Macon, a Sancerre and a Chablis. Unfortunately, on our visit the coolers were not working properly and the wines were a bit warm but the Sancerre and Chablis still exhibited the typical characteristics you would expect from those wines. The Chablis was actually a bit cooler the rest and was quite good with my Crab Tian, crisp and minerally with a nice lemon finish.
Of the three reds, the St. Estephe (£7.50/125 ml glass) was the best choice for my duck confit although the Chinon came in a close second. The other red, a Cotes de Thongue Syrah/Cab blend (£3.80 /125 ml) was not bad but for £1.40 more, I’d spring for the Chinon. We were both quite taken with the Chinon and thought it was an excellent example of Cab franc, earthy, minerally but with that distinctive spicy blackcurrant character and a slight hint of brett, which I adore! Some people liken it to sniffing on a box of band-aids but to me, I could just sniff it all day.
I have to say, I was fairly impressed by the wines on tap. There were just as good if not better then other house wines that are available in brasseries and cafes and infinitely better then the syrupy, alcoholic red winds or the astringent, pale imitations of pinot grigio that seems to be prevalent in far too many bars and pubs. The wines are priced according to size, from £3.80 to £7.50 for 125 mls and for 175 mls they were priced from £5.00 to £10.50, mind these were for the wines on tap and we are on the Marylebone High Street. Other wines were also available by the glass but they were from a bottle and so of course, were more expensive.
As on the Continent, good wine shouldn’t have to be outrageously expensive to be enjoyed with a meal. I think that Cafe Luc have succeeded in bringing good quality, affordable wine to the English cafe dining experience, just like they do on the Continent.