Bar review: Wino, St Paul’s Street, Leeds

PIC: Simon Hulme
PIC: Simon Hulme
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Wino on St Paul’s street has been open now about three-and-a-half years, although it feels like it’s been there much longer.

Part of this is due to its understated presence, the signage is positively demure, it’s lettering stencilled in matt gold on a charcoal grey background, a scatter of ad hoc chalkboards leant against the window advertising the day’s offerings.

Step beyond the threshold and you are greeted convivially but there’s genuine warmth and interest here. From the off, I found myself disarmed, engaged in conversation which seemed almost familiar, during which information about the meat and cheese boards of the day was imparted. This is a rare skill, because by the time I had sat down, the lady behind the bar had managed not only to enquire how I was and pass the time of day about how nice it was outside etc, etc, but also to furnish me with information about the food and drink they offer.

As the name suggests, this place is all about wine but for those who want more, there’s beer, spirits and snacks to knock your socks off. I went for the cheeseboard (£8), accompanied by a glass of Pieno Sud Rosso (£6.45 for 250ml), which is a nice light but juicy number with a nicely rounded spicy aftertaste.

But the star of the show, I have to say, was the cheeseboard. Now, I can only imagine what their other food tastes like but if the cheeseboard is anything to go by, mark my words, I’ll be back. What a wonderful thing it was, comprising: North Yorkshire-based Shepherds Purse’s Mrs Blue (apparently a favourite of chef Rick Stein), a “mould ripened” creamy, salty, mature as you like indulgence which went perfectly with my glass of red. There was also the rich and silky Barncliffe Brie, from Huddersfield of all places and a “double barrel aged, artisan mature” cheese from Lincolnshire Poacher... all of which was as a prelude to the charcoal cheddar, a bewitching, bewildering sliver of a thing, which looks more like black pudding and which at first has a slightly grainy feel to it with a bitter finish but let me tell you, the more of it you eat, the more you’ll like it. All this came presented neatly on a nice little wooden platter, decorated with slices of apple, grapes, tiny little oat biscuits, crunchy celery and a rectangle of quince jelly, a jammy cuboid of fruity pleasure to cut the sourness of the cheese.

Service is excellent too: friendly, professional and not in the least bit intrusive. You can also buy wines to take away here, at discounted prices and such is their depth of knowledge that you needn’t bother with specifics. So tell them what mood you’re in (or want to be in) and they will do the rest, as they did with me, suggesting two thoroughly decent bottles, a Morande Sauvignon Blanc (£14) and a Louis Latour Volmoissine Pinot Noir (£17). Spot on.

Wino, St Paul’s Street, Leeds

Score: 5/5