Short listed for a Restaurant and Bar Design Award, 1855 Oxford, the ideal spot for wine enthusiasts, has recently been unveiled in the city’s Castle Quarter.
Napoleon III ordered the classification of the most prestigious Chateaux in the Bordeaux wine region in 1855; and so the venues name pays homage to this iconic moment in time.
Owners Chris Mulhall and Laurence Howlin have worked with Tait since February 2014 to create 1855’s brand identity and environment. Chris and Laurence were keen to create a space that communicates their passion and knowledge for wine and allows others, whether wine novices or enthusiasts, to enjoy the experience.
The venue, short listed under the category of ‘Restaurant or Bar in a Heritage Building’ has been created with the aim of informing diners about the wine and tasting experience. The restaurant is scattered with playful coasters which narrate the wine tasting process and the drinks menu guides and explains the best choice in relation to specific dishes. With reference to the venue’s menu, carefully selected seasonal ingredients are used so that all dishes compliment the extensive wine list.
Over 1,000 bottles can be found on a dramatic double-height presentation wall which joins the two storey building. On the first floor diners can enjoy a more intimate seating area which has been decorated with cut-crystal light bulbs, adding a special sparkle to the space. The restaurant also contains an array of bespoke copper tables which have been completed with cast iron bases. The first floor is extremely flexible and can be easily reconﬁgured to hold tasting workshops or private functions.
The Wine Bar Bistro, located on New Road in Oxford city centre, is quite an unusual site and so main contractors Howbro Ltd and Tait worked together to ensure that the end result was as spectacular as possible; despite the design and construction challenges.
‘One of the main challenges was how to connect the upper and lower levels of space. We demised a bespoke oxidised mirror installation that reflects the double height space back on itself. The mirror is multifunctional as this increases the size of the space, but also conceals some blank interior windows, which could not be altered due to planning permission restrictions. ‘
Project designers Tait worked tirelessly to ensure the clients brief was achieved; a celebration of the world of wine in the heart of Oxford. Tait developed the full brand identity alongside the environmental design.
General Manager of 1855 Oxford said:
“At 1855 we believe less is more. Minimal intervention with chemicals in the vineyard and winery means maximum expression of place. Many of our wines are produced organically and bio-dynamically, by growers who spend time in the vineyard preventing maladies and pests naturally. This requires time, love and care – it also means less fruit is produced, but that fruit is vibrant, full of energy and speaks of its origins. Wines packed with energy, vitality, vibrancy and authenticity – that’s what I love to drink, and share with you at 1855.”
Alistair is ideally placed to oversee 1855 thanks to his Derouet Jameson Award of Excellence, which he was awarded due to his wine expertise. He is currently studying to become a Master of Wine, of which there are just 303 in the world. Non-executive Chef Paul Bellchambers is also a member of the restaurants staff and again has extensive experience in the hospitality sector. He said:
“Wine and food are two peas in a pod. They should complement and enhance each other, and I have created a menu that does just that. The menu is updated seasonally with outstanding produce that is as simple as it is tasty. Locally sourced wherever possible from small farms and producers, these are the bounties of Oxfordshire – rare breed pigs, Cotswold cheeses and locally cured meats.”
Paul has many strings to his ever-expanding bow; he is the owner of The Late Chef catering firm, a food writer as well as a broadcaster. He is also a member of the Guild of Food Writers and The Craft Guild of Chefs.
1855 Oxford is extremely proud that they only serve real coffee; an exclusive 1855 coffee blend which has been wood-fire roasted by the UK’s only artisan wood roaster is available for customers. The restaurant also provides a choice of single origin ethically-farmed beans allowing customers to order in line with their conscience.
As well as enjoying wine by the glass, carafe and bottle, the 1855 team also run wine tasting classes for anyone eager to find out more about their favourite vintage. During these tasting lessons knowledgeable staff are on hand, joined by producers who undertake interesting talks and group activities to make the session that bit more exciting.
Saligo Design specialises in the manufacture and supply of antique mirror glass and has been in operation for five years. Since their inception the firm has established an extensive portfolio working with a range of clients across an array of sectors.
The Saligo team have undertaken works at Hard Rock Cafe in Piccadilly, London, as well as working on the prestigious Jumeirah Carlton Tower Hotel in the capital. Another project includes Christchurch Harbour Hotel luxury spa hotel situated in Dorset where the firm were instrumental in creating an awe inspiring decorative application.
Premier Hospitality caught up with James Stait, Director of Saligo Design, to find out more about the firms latest project, 1855 Oxford:
“We supplied panels of Byzantine-style antique mirror glass to the venue which are now mounted up on the wall in the bar, forming a feature piece of the restaurant. It has been great for us to be involved with the project as having our product feature in a striking venue such as the 1855 is a great showcase for us.
“We pride ourselves in the range and quality of our product.”