When all is not as it seems, Annie Lewis.
There had been many a time one of the fellow Scoffers and I have walked past a venue, and reminded each other we should go in and check it out. Annie Lewis Wine Bar on the city end of Bridge Road in Richmond was one of those places.
The bar is big, in an old building with high ceilings, and is almost cavernous. Large shared tables dominate the middle of the room and shelving all around with empty wine bottles and various paraphernalia emphasises this is a temple to poor housekeeping. The table is dirty, sticky and where ever we look, it seems to not have been cleaned. Dust has formed a film on said empty bottles, the kitchen area and the bar is a cross between a home kitchen and the back of house of a suburban cafe. Every thing is visible, messy and disorganised.
We took a wander to look at some of the wines on offer, purchase by the bottle and add $ for corkage, as is the case with many a modern wine store. As someone who tends to do a bit of wholesale shopping for various reasons, the mark ups are clearly paying the hefty rent on the site. The person behind the bar is somewhat disinterested in our arrival, deciding instead to get some ordering done and chat to a couple of punters perched at the end of the bar, who he clearly knows well. We watch others come and go, again with very little interest in their presence.
It was hard to find somewhere to direct the eye. A small fridge with cheese and charcuterie has a light you can see from the moon, and everywhere else was either messy or adorned with a collection of dust collecting empty bottles, untidiness and a general sense of not giving a toss. It's like they have given up.
I know COVID has made a difference to business, and I get how tough it is, but perhaps that time could have been used to do something about the space. It's big, crowded in some corners and with space enough elsewhere to play cricket. A quick scrub and a mop, some cleaning and a bit of thought could have made this a great experience. Sadly after one glass of over priced Riesling of no note, we left for another bar, some great service and vowed perhaps not to come back.
It is a wasted opportunity in what could be a thriving venue with so much to offer. It just needs a little love and care.
Annie Lewis Winehouse is at 138 Bridge Road, Richmond
Open Tues - Friday from 4pm - late. From 2pm Sat & Sun.