In vino veritas

Words by Hannah Tapping


A place of solace where carefully curated food and fine wine meet old-fashioned neighbourhood ambience and informal conviviality.


Tucked away from the hustle and bustle of the high street in Wesley Yard, you’ll find The Bottle, a relaxed French-inspired wine bar and kitchen in an area of Newquay that is fast becoming Cornwall’s answer to Shoreditch, echoing its edgy urban vibe. Opened in August last year, owners Rob Palmer and Toyah Marshall took a leap of faith, bucking the trend of pandemic problems in the hospitality industry. Their previous travels through France and northern Spain, set a seed for creating somewhere cheese and wine lovers could relax and enjoy sharing boards, French tartines, baked camembert, and small plates paired with great wine from around the world – reminiscent of the little European wine bars they so love.

Toyah and Rob

So, how does an employment law solicitor and a former Royal Marine now owner of a functional fitness gym, arrive at this foray into food and drink? Toyah explains: “I worked in hospitality from the age of 16, most notably in a Michelin-starred restaurant in Leeds during my university years. I’ve always loved wine and good food, especially from France and the Basque region and Rob has a similar passion. It’s something we’ve always wanted to do, and although I was still working during lockdown, Rob wasn’t able to, so we had time to put together a proper business plan and it gave Rob the opportunity to focus on his wine education, gaining a WSET Level 2 Award, with plans to continue to a Level 3, alongside a cheesemonger course.”


They say location is everything and so when the opportunity arose to take over an empty shop just around the the corner from their house Rob and Toyah jumped at the chance: “It was a very quick turnaround,” adds Toyah. “We began with the seed of an idea of what we wanted to do, and within eight short weeks we were open!” The approach is relaxed and informal, introducing customers to wine and produce from around the world. In terms of produce, Rob and Toyah source the finest ingredients from the best locations. The majority of their fresh fruit and vegetables are sourced seasonably and come from a supplier who works closely with many Cornish producers. “We look for small artisanal producers, not big manufacturers, and local where appropriate,” says Toyah. “Our English cheese comes from one supplier who works with a range of small, interesting producers. For our French cheese selection, we import this direct along with exquisite French saucisson, and we also have excellent Spanish and Italian suppliers who we work with.”


Cured British charcuterie comes courtesy of award-winning Cobbled Lane Cured, in line with the couple’s ethos of wanting to work with businesses run by authentic people, producing authentic products. Toyah goes on to add: “We wanted to avoid large, wholesale manufacturing chains where we were unable to define the produce’s origins. We know that small producers in the UK have struggled during the pandemic, but French and Spanish producers have also been really affected by Brexit so it’s important for us that we support these family-run businesses.”

For the wine side of the business, Rob explains that a friend came to the rescue: “Our friend Debbie Warner, who works for Bibendum, one of the largest wines and spirits wholesaler in the UK, helped us significantly when creating our opening wine list, and for that we will be eternally grateful. However, now that we have grown and found our feet, we’re able to incorporate various other more quirky, unique wine suppliers, including some exciting off the beaten track stuff. We’re not talking just new world wines, we go into the old world and ancient world of wines as well. Staying within the realms of Europe, we look for small batch groves, where we can source high quality, well-produced wines, that don’t come with an associated significant price tag. We love the organic and biodynamic side, which is actually where the industry as a whole is going at the moment, and champion what is referred to as minimum intervention wine.”


Rob’s eco-friendly approach to sourcing wine extends to a refillable service: “Our aim is to have as little footprint as we possibly can from vine to bottle. So, we have up to 750ml and litre carafes (or you can bring your own) which you can refill and take away with you. Or, you can have them at the table. The way we do this is through what we call box wine, something ten years ago, people would have turned their noses up at. Nowadays, and in particular European box wines, are as good if not better than a standard table wine, but come with less packaging, so taking up less transport space. By doing this, it helps us to be mindful of the bigger picture and our carbon footprint.”

So, we know that the provenance is there, but what of its ambience? “It’s a really intimate venue,” explains Toyah, “but it’s also a social place. It’s both a place where you can sit and have a nice quiet glass of wine on a date night in a cosy corner, with informal, yet attentive service so your glass will always be full; as well as being a place for conviviality where groups of friends come for a chat and a giggle. It’s also become quite a local venue – we like to think of it as a neighbourhood restaurant, as we are in something of a residential area and so it’s lovely to see familiar faces returning on a regular basis.”



The fun and informality also extend to The Bottle’s wine tasting events. Wanting to take the ‘snobbery’ out of wine, Rob and Toyah offer relaxed and informal evenings where flights of wine are paired with complementary cheeses: “These events attract a wide demographic of guests, testament we believe to our ethos of inclusivity when it comes to enjoying fine foods and wine. We also offer a ‘Coravin menu’ for our higher-end or more unique wines; where people might be scared to dive in and have a whole bottle of said wine, the Coravin device allows for the wine to be poured through a fine needle without removing the cork. The wine is pressurised with the use of argon gas and once the needle is removed the cork essentially reseals itself, keeping the remaining wine fresh for months,” explains Rob. “This also gives is the chance to diversify and change our wine menu throughout the seasons.”

Offering a seven-day-a-week casual dining experience, The Bottle combines the best in carefully selected produce and wine with a warm and sociable welcome – tchin-tchin!


thebottlenqy.co.uk



The Bottle Tapas recipes


Citrus Beans


INGREDIENTS:

½ can of butter beans, drained

Maldon sea salt

1 tbsp lemon juice

1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Lemon zest


Method

Drain the beans and then toss them in the lemon juice and olive oil. Empty on to a play and sprinkle with a pinch of salt and scattering of lemon zest.



Boozey Tomatoes


INGREDIENTS:

300g of heritage tomatoes

Maldon sea salt

Thyme

For the butter: (makes 12-15 servings)

1 tbsp butter, melted

1 tbsp Armagnac

¼ shallot finely diced

1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Salt and pepper


Method

Combine the butter with the Armagnac and oil. Add in the shallot and a small pinch of salt and pepper. Stir until melted together.


Slice the tomatoes and arrange on a plate. Season the tomatoes with a sprinkle of sea salt and drizzle the butter over the top. Add some torn sprigs of thyme on top to finish. Serve with crusty bread.



Feta and Goat’s Cheese Dip


INGREDIENTS:

For the dip:

70g feta

70g goat’s cheese

100ml Greek yoghurt


For the marinade:

1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1 tbsp balsamic vinegar

¼ garlic clove, minced or ½ tsp garlic pureé

Black Kalamata olives

Salt and pepper


Method

Blend the yoghurt, feta and goat’s cheese together until smooth. In a separate bowl, combine all the marinade ingredients, except the olives. Spoon on top of the cheese dip, then add the olives and garnish with a sprig of thyme. Serve with crusty bread to dip.


thebottlenqy.co.uk