Wilding is no ordinary restaurant and wine bar, it is also a wine store with a seemingly equal emphasis on wine and food.
Salisbury Restaurant, which opened on the High Street in August, is wine expert Kent Barker’s second restaurant (the first opened in Oxford in May).
The name of Wilding derives from the practice of regenerating overworked lands to return them to nature; a philosophy that is at the heart of the concept of the founder Barker, who wants to create a place where wine and food are matched and enjoyed in a creative, unpretentious and engaging way.
I went for dinner on a Saturday night when it was encouraging to find the restaurant bustling with happy diners eager to try this new concept of dining.
Sitting by a window in the welcoming and elegantly designed interior, my partner and I got to see the 350 strange wines on display in the wine store.
We ordered our aperitifs, as recommended by wine manager Sarah Helliwell, mine the ‘Frose’ – an adult slush puppy of rosÃ© wine from Provence and my partner’s house spritz made from English sparkling wine with Somerset blackcurrant and citrus fruits.
While sipping our frozen drinks, we perused the menu – which included finger foods and small platters, main dishes from the grill and a selection of pizzas as well as meal ‘boards’.
When ordering wine I probably don’t think as much as I should about whether it pairs well with my choice of food, so having Sarah there was a breath of fresh air.
We were interested in Butcher’s Cut steaks, so after bringing the two different cuts on offer to the table to show us off, Sarah went through the wine list with us, carefully asking which wines we would normally drink and whether we like a medium or a heavy body.
She narrowed it down to three or four that would finely accompany the mid-rare T-bone we ordered.
I opted for the full-bodied red wine Alice Vieira de Sousa Reserve 2019 from Portugal. It is a very elegant and smooth wine with a taste of fresh fruit and a hint of spices.
There was ample time to chat and enjoy our drinks before our entrees arrived. Mine – the goat cheese soufflÃ© was light and chewy, topped with green pea and bean soup, while the Frito Misto with Aioili was a tasty mix of deep-fried seafood in a batter, including l white bait and squid with a creamy garlic dip.
Our main course was something to see – the huge T-bone steak arrived on a wooden board, placed in the center of the table for the two of us to share.
Cooked to pink perfection and sprinkled with sea salt, it was served with a pitcher of gravy and a bowl of watercress and was tender and utterly delicious.
We also opted for accompaniments of homemade fries with the skin on, buttered peas and green beans, and mashed garlic and crushed rapeseed oil – all wonderfully flavorful accompaniments.
Sarah certainly knows her stuff and the robust red wine was well balanced with the rich red meat.
After the decadent main course, we shared a chocolate fudge cake dessert with a honeycomb while sipping on flat, smooth whites.
With Wilding, Kent Barker aims to offer a platform to as many local producers as possible.
The 400-person, low-intervention wine list alongside a concise seasonal cocktail menu and a gastronomic offer from Chef Dominique Goltinger, using seasonal, locally sourced and biodiverse ingredients.
While Sarah Helliwell’s carefully curated wine list comes from local, sustainable and passionate producers.
Wines by the bottle include Bride Valley Cremant from Dorset (Â£ 27), an organic Austrian Zweigelt, and five low intervention orange wines (also available by the glass), with over 200 select bottles available for purchase from the wine merchant .
Wilding offers something a little more, which sets it apart from other restaurants in town. It really is a place to eat, drink and have fun.
www.wilding.wine | @wilding_sal
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