The Real Wine Drinking Guide: Plateau, Brighton

Plateau (“Wine, Beats & Bites”), opened in 2011 by Thierry and Vincent, two French friends from the Loire Valley, may justifiably claim to be the first natural wine bar in England outside London.

The three-story building can be found nestled at the end of one of Brighton’s famous lanes, directly opposite the Town Hall, and very close to the sea front. The ground floor is composed of a classic bistro bar and comfortable restaurant seating area (30 covers), whilst the upstairs area can comfortably accommodate a further 40 covers. With its original features, stained glass frontage, exposed brick walls, industrial look and quirky furniture, humorous wine posters (by Michel Tolmer, Louise Sheeran, and others) adorning the walls, and empty rare wine bottles on the shelves, it’s an inviting, relaxed and intimate place to nosh and slosh. Music is a strong feature here, and Plateau’s notable playlist, an exhaustive mix of jazz, hip-hop, world, house and electro, is composed by Thierry and Vincent themselves.

Plateau sources the raw ingredients for its menu mainly from local growers and farmers who work sustainably, using organic or biodynamic agricultural practices. Provenance and quality are paramount. The dishes are designed to be shared, with a “larder” section consisting of nibbles and cured meat; “bites” – smaller, more elaborate dishes to graze on; and their famous « plateaux”, platters composed of meat or fish cooked in different styles to be shared by two or more people. A daily-changing menu is chalked on the blackboard.

The natural wine list (described as “outstanding” by Tim Wildman MW) is a delight. The ethos is simple: to source and list wines made with respect for the environment and which represent the spirit of the vigneron and the origin of the vineyard. Comprising over 130 wines, and classified by colour, weight and structure and more informal categories such as “Nos Amis Les Chenins” or “Jurassic” or “Hispanic Wine Reconquista!” the list offers a healthy - and weekly-changing - 26 choices by the glass. Value at every level is superb – there is plenty of drinking under £30 to be had as well.

Producers we love: Craig Hawkins; Jean-Christophe Garnier; Didier Grappe; Hughes-Beguet; Sepp Muster; Nicolas Carmarans.

Look out for the lesser spotted: A rare bottles category features, for example, wines from Didier Barral; Bruno Duchene; Yvon Metras and Antoine Arena.

We really like: The great value takeaway wine list and the ideas of the Wine School.

Do: Try one of their drop-in tastings ‘Introduction into the natural wine world’ every Wednesday between 5pm-7pm. (called #WineWednesday), where they explain the natural wine concept in an informal environment and open bottles to show different styles of natural wines.

Key wine person(s): Thierry Pluquet (managing director, co-owner).

1 Bartholomews | Brighton | BN1 1HG