Planque is a French word that means ‘hideaway’, making it a highly appropriate moniker for this little wine-focused members’ club and restaurant located inside a pair of East London railway arches.
It also sounds like ‘plonk’, which is appropriate too.
Describing itself as a wine drinkers’ clubhouse, Planque’s mission is to grow a community of fine wine & food lovers around its new Haggerston home, with a monthly £80 membership fee entitling members to cellar their own wine; access the members’ lounge; and befriend like-minded oenophiles at exclusive dinners & tastings. But even if you don’t fancy becoming a member, you can still win the rather fabulous booby prize of booking into the restaurant, run by Seb Myers…
As is the case with most railway arches, you’ll find this place right next to a railway. Step out of Haggerston station, and you’ll quickly see an old building which – once you get inside – feels sleekly modern, with polished concrete floors cupped by two swooping brick arches located behind the main restaurant space. Housed in one of those arches is the club space, and in the other is the kitchen (with the wine cellars located behind them).
Let’s start with the club. If you decide to spring for a membership, you’ll be met by the bright-eyed club manager Sarah Papadimitriou. An alumnus of both The Laughing Heart & Mãos, she has an energetic passion for the wine, and she’ll happily talk you though the benefits of your membership – firstly, and most obviously, there’s access to the club space itself, an un-bookable lounge area filled with chic-yet-comfortable furnishings. There’s also the sapphire-blue private dining nook too, and it’s between these two that they’ll be holding twice-monthly ‘wine parties’ for members and their guests. There’ll be music, there’ll be mingling, and everyone opens a bottle.
It almost goes without saying that there are plans for wine tastings & workshops too, but they won’t just be with winemakers and the like. You can expect slightly more surprising choices, like culinary illustrators, or even a perfume “nose”, whose job it is on a typical day is to detect the subtlest notes in high-end fragrance blends. They’ll point their impeccably well-trained nostrils at a few bottles, and guide you though what comes out.
And then there’s the cellaring. Taking up almost a full third of the building space, the cellars hold thousands upon thousands of bottles, with enough room for each member to store up to 72 of their own in a perfectly climate controlled environment (rather than next to their radiator at home). You can pop a couple of bottles a month at the restaurant for zero corkage, have them delivered to you next-day, or just swing by to pick them up from Sarah.
If you don’t fancy becoming a member though? Fear not. You can still head down to the restaurant, which is run by none other than the unreasonably talented Seb Myers (of P. Franco fame). He created an opening menu of vino-friendly dishes like bright red grilled Mylor prawns; a tender pork collar decorated with pumpkin & capers; and a delicately steamed brill with cucumber & fig leaf.
The restaurant sommelier, one James Lewis, used to work at Lyle’s, and the list he’s put together is the kind where you could literally put on a blindfold, point at a random bottle, and get something exquisite. Of course, if you do that, you could end up spending a painful amount of money, so you’ll be happy to know they do wine by the glass too, starting at just £8.
And finally, to cap it all off, there’s a small retail area too. It’s literally just a couple of shelves and a table, but if you’ve ever wanted a charcuterie plush toy, or a wine-bottle art print, well… here’s where you can get it.
NOTE: Planque is open Wednesday – Saturday. You can find out more, book a table, and enquire about membership at their website right HERE.
Planque | 322-324 Acton Mews, E8 4EA
Photo credit: Anton Rodriguez
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