Muddy reviews: Dukes Wine Bar, Princes Risborough
Fancy a change from your local pub? Wine bars are having a resurgence, and Dukes in Princes Risborough is leading the charge.
As our annual Awards loom large (mark your calendars now!), Muddy’s Rachel teamed up with the manager of last year’s winner of Best Fashion Store, Iris, for a cheese and wine tasting at Dukes Wine Bar on Risborough High Street.
I’ve never managed to make it into Dukes despite often peering curiously through the window. Small and artisan-like from the outside, Dukes is deceptively deep and spacious, and buzzy too – it’s clearly a popular hang out for the locals.
To the side of the bar is a fantastically quirky wine store, laid out with an old-fashioned telephone box and plenty of info about the various wines on offer on mini blackboards. Manager and wine aficionado Martine comes from a background at Oddbins (memories of my London days, as I was a frequent customer!).
We ate before the wine tasting itself on the grounds that we had no intention of utilising a spittoon at any point! The menu is compact, but focuses on sharing boards (charcuterie, a mezze board, and a hot and cold seafood boards, plus tapas or even pizzas) so there’s likely to be something for even fussy eaters. We opted for some lightly dusted baby calamari, a delicious smokey chorizo dish with sour cream, and a seafood platter bursting with fishy treats. The portions were prettily presented, and generous – just look at my plate below.
The function room at Dukes is a bright and airy space, ideal for this sort of gathering. Some guests had come as a larger group, some were in couples, but the table layout meant it was easy to be sociable and compare notes with others. For the cheese tasting Dukes had teamed up with The Deli at No 5, who are soon to be selling their meats, fish and cheeses online.
There were five British cheeses for us to sample on the night and we were given the lowdown on each before trying. They included a creamy, nutty Somerset goat’s cheese, a Cornish Kern (voted best in the world, and not just by me) and a Shipston Blue Buffalo cheese from Lancs.
Each cheese was paired with a wine from around the world, and there were some that were new to me, such as the Hiruzta Txakoli from the Basque region of Spain – I can report this went down smoothly. The Châteauneuf-du-Pape was the most popular on the night, and we rounded off the tasting with a stunning dessert wine from South East Australia that proved a worthy rival to Sauternes. Martine, our sommelier for the evening, gave excellent pointers on each wine before tasting, so we all felt that we had genuinely learned something rather than just quaffing senselessly. Sound right up your street? The next event is a Champagne tasting on Fri 20 Mar, for £20pp.
OUT AND ABOUT
Princes Risborough is a thriving market town in the heart of Bucks, and its High Street is groaning with local indie stores and pretty cafés to explore. It’s easy access to London – ideal for families – and the Phoenix Trail and Ridgeway are perfect for cyclists and hikers. Likewise Wycombe Park, the Hellfire Caves and Whiteleaf Nature reserve are all close at hand.
THE MUDDY VERDICT
Good for: Those after a upbeat change from local pubs and gin bars – Dukes has plenty of atmosphere as well as an excellent selection of wines, and there’s a pretty outside courtyard for sunny days. Keep an eye out for further events and have a mooch around the adjacent wine store for something different to take to your next dinner party.
Not for: Younger children – this is more for couples and groups of friends. It’s also worth noting that there isn’t any parking directly outside Dukes, but there are usually plenty of spaces elsewhere in the town.
The damage: Foodwise, prices are incredibly reasonable, and there’s a lot to choose from depending on what you’re after. Sharing platters are around £15-£25 depending on the number of people, and light tapas-style bites come in around the £6-8 mark. Pizzas are between £6-£12 depending on size. When it comes to the wine itself there’s obviously a huge range to suit any price point. Bottles range from £19 to £70, but are on average around £24, and glasses cost around £6 for a medium and £8 for a large.
Dukes Wine Bar, 19 Duke Street, Princes Risborough HP27 0AT, Tel:01844 274060