Really want to feel like you’re somewhere southern European? You know, where beer is a couple of euros, and wine not much more? Well, the other day we stumbled across this leafy little spot on Haverstock Hill, a bar with a great pavement terrace, and lots of shiny metal tables and chairs. There’s inside seating too, if it gets a wee bit chilly.
On a busy Thursday night an endless parade of diners traipses up to Franco Manca, with commuters pouring out of the tube, and families congregating in the burger and pizza joints. It’s made for people-watching.
And the prices? Well, this unlikely bar is a little like stepping back in time (except the beer’s better). Bottles of Camden Hells? A teensy £1.79. Punk IPA? Three for a fiver. Cans of Beavertown? About £3.
And it doesn’t stop there. A huge list of wines by the glass is yours to peruse, with outstanding choices at about three quid a pop. Kentish vineyard Chapel Down’s crisp white? £3.25 a glass. Sancerre? £3.49. A really good Cotes De Provence? £5.99.
It doesn’t stop there, either. They can knock up cocktails at prices that make you think you’re in the distant past: double gin ‘n’ tonic? £4.99. Negroni? £5.99. And best of all, the summer’s drink du jour, an Aperol Spritz is a snip at £3.99.
Where on earth is this bargain booze haven, you cry? Wine Rack, Haverstock Hill. Yes, an off license that is now a convincingly licensed bar too. Doubly ironic given Belsize Park is one of London’s most expensive neighbourhoods.
It gets busy, mind. Folk were pouring in to enjoy the cheering prices. And the bar itself is open till 9pm on weekday nights, and 11pm at weekends.