Joyau is a French word meaning ‘gem, something thought to be especially good’.
And in a glorious coup for nominative determinism, this wine bar crouched under a Forest Gate railway arch is a true neighbourhood gem.
It comes to you from a couple of locals who thought about what their ideal wine bar would look like… then built it. You’ll hear Joyau before you see it: the outdoor terrace is packed out with wine-swilling punters on a sunny evening, while inside the arch itself is a surprisingly roomy cavern. Fresh wild flowers decorate the long communal table and wall-hugging counters, while bright retro prints and menus adorn the walls. A well-stocked library of wines acts as a visual menu, but there’s also a couple of hand-picked options by the glass scrawled up on a chalkboard by the bar.
The selection here is inspired by the owners’ travels across France, so you’ll find a rich array of biodynamic and low-intervention wines plucked from north to south – from nutty Sauvignons from the Loire, to Côte-de-Provence rosés, and reds from northern Burgundy that are best served chilled. They’ve picked each bottle individually, so they’re more than happy to chat wines with you and give you the run-down on each one (though most bottles sport hand-written biographies round their necks, too).
Accompanying the vino is a regularly changing menu of small plates courtesy of chef Gaetan. He’s putting together seasonal numbers like vesuvio tomatoes with piattone beans & tofu; honeydew melon & smoked ricotta; and rice cakes with comté and onion velouté. They’re all beautifully presented, and the perfect foil for the wines.
And if, on the off-chance, you don’t like natural wine? Well, the selection here might just persuade you, but there’s also a couple of beers on tap, and artisanal soft drinks to quench your thirst. But if you really like natural wine? You’ll be glad to hear that library of wines is also a bottle shop.
It serves a jewel purpose.
NOTE: Joyau is open Wed-Fri 3-11pm, Sat 12-11pm and Sun 12-6pm. There are no bookings; just turn up – you can check out their instagram here.
Joyau | 353 Winchelsea Road, London, E7 0AQ
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