Gray and Gray
Boris Portnoy – the owner of destination bakery All Are Welcome and its Thornbury sibling – took over the decades-old “Gray & Gray Barristers & Solicitors” office space at the start of 2020. Alongside winemaker Mitch Sokolin, he turned it into a 28-seat wine bar and restaurant, with a focus on Russian and Georgian food. The pair have kept the name but added the two things they love most, making it Gray and Gray Bread and Wine.
Portnoy and Sokolin were both raised in New York, with Russian-Jewish heritage. They met through a mutual friend and began making wine together in Georgia, a Caucasus nation at the intersection of Europe and Asia. That experience informs the drinks list, which involves a chalked-up wine list filled with left-of-centre drops from Georgia, Spain, France and Italy. And Sokolin can tell you the story of every grape and winemaker.
The a la carte offering kicks off with Georgian-style flatbreads, whipped cultured butter and house pickles. Then it’s on to seasonal dishes, such as past highlights of smoked and pickled musses, kiszka (a traditional Ashkenazi sausage), and parsnip dumplings served with caramelised onion and yoghurt. For dessert, Portnoy cuts and plates thick wedges of both his lofty 10-layered medovik (Russian honey cake.)
Moving through the venue, you get the feeling Portnoy has built the kitchen as a window to the restaurant, not the other way around. There’s a raised communal table that extends to the service counter, with intimate spots for two scattered around the edges.
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