John Baum on wine and food in Dept­ford

The Wharf - - This Week People - Olivia Palam­oun­tain Go to wine­mak­ers­dept­ford.co.uk for more in­for­ma­tion

When Christopher Mar­lowe was mur­dered in a Dept­ford tav­ern in 1593, this part of south-east Lon­don had its in­salu­bri­ous rep­u­ta­tion ce­mented in the his­tory books.

But with £5 mil­lion spent on the town cen­tre and a sparkling new train sta­tion, things are look­ing up.

Wine­mak­ers restau­rant and bar, in Dept­ford High Street, is one of the busi­nesses lead­ing the change.

Owner John Baum, said: “Dept­ford is fast be­com­ing a des­ti­na­tion for eat­ing and drink­ing.

“Rents are still con­sid­er­ably less than other parts of Lon­don and, for trans­port links, there are very few places as good as Dept­ford High Street. It has a rep­u­ta­tion go­ing back many years for not be­ing a very nice place to be, but these are al­ways the places that turn around.

“It was the same with Hack­ney and with Brix­ton.”

Opened in March last year, Wine­mak­ers is the sis­ter site of a wine shop and bar in Far­ring­don and fea­tures a sea­son­ally driven kitchen, a small bar and a cel­lar full of independent wines.

“We don’t book out the bar so there’s al­ways a place for peo­ple to come in for a drink and we’ve al­ready got our reg­u­lars,” said John.

“Peo­ple still see us as a bit of a cel­e­bra­tion place, but we’re so small that it doesn’t mat­ter.

“When we first opened, lo­cals would come for lit­tle bites to see what we were about, but now three cour­ses is the stan­dard.

“We have a time al­lo­ca­tion of two hours per ta­ble be­cause we be­lieve peo­ple need to be here that long to have a proper meal.”

On the menu is com­fort food for the reg­u­lars, dishes that pop up nearly ev­ery day such as Lin­colnshire poacher souf­fle or crab cro­que­tas.

“The rest al­ways changes”, said John, ac­cord­ing to the whim of the sup­pli­ers and the chefs.

“I try not to get overly in­volved in the kitchen. We do wine tast­ings to­gether and that’s about it.

“I don’t dic­tate what food should be served. I be­lieve in peo­ple hav­ing their chance to be cre­ative in their own fields and wine is what I’m good at.”

Wine­mak­ers also com­prises a small shop so pun­ters can take home their favourite tip­ple.

“Our wines aren’t cheap,” John said. “That’s be­cause the wines we work with are from small pro­duc­ers, gen­er­ally or­ganic or bio­dy­namic so the cost of mak­ing them is very high.

“We wanted to take ad­van­tage of our on and off li­cence so we’ve got a small shop – it’s just a shelf in fact.

“But when you have a shop, peo­ple rely on you for cer­tain things.

“From the word go this was a busi­ness to build and to do that you have to keep peo­ple’s minds en­gaged, al­ways.”

Wine­mak­ers owner John Baum fo­cuses on the wine list while the chefs get cre­ative with sea­sonal recipes (above), and more din­ers are now en­joy­ing three course meals at the venue (left)

PIC­TURES: HOLLY CANT

The Wine­mak­ers shop sells a small se­lec­tion of wines

John Baum

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