Mistral wine shop in Leith opens its bar and kitchen

Now you can linger instead of just taking away

Leith has been a food lover's paradise for a while, though not every street is packed with great restaurants and bars.

Until recently, Bonnington Road was more of a thoroughfare than a destination.

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However, as well as being the new address of The Little Chartroom, at number 14, the street now includes the latest incarnation of Mistral at 10-12.

Sam and Julie at MistralSam and Julie at Mistral
Sam and Julie at Mistral

It opened as an independent wine shop in December 2020, but has just launched the bar and kitchen element of its business. They’re now open to walk-ins on Friday nights from 5pm and all day Saturday and Sunday, with more hours set to be added if all goes well.

“It’s pretty cool to have the Chartroom next door and you can already see the impact it's had on a street that not many people would think of visiting a year or so ago. We've got a little strip going down Bonnington Road now, with Fox's Bar next door a karaoke favourite on the weekends too,” says Sam Barker, who owns Mistral with his partner, Julie Di Toro, who is originally from Grenoble.

“It's nice to be in a little patch a bit further along from the main stretch. We think Leith has a big draw for people to come from other parts of the city for a night/day out, there's a great mix of bars, cafes, and restaurants to keep most appetites happy”.

All the wines at Mistral are now available to drink in, for a £10 corkage, and they sell many by the glass. There’s also craft beer, cider, vermouth, single malts and digestifs to try.

“We're always changing and ordering new wines here and there, so regularly have something interesting to show,” says Barker. “They generally come from smaller producers/importers who work in a sustainable way but always have a true expression and identity of the place their wines come from”.

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The new food menu includes cheese and charcuterie, along with paired wines, and nibbles like bread, olives, boquerones and oysters. The couple, who between them have sommelier and front-of-house experience at Ondine and London’s Marcus by Marcus Wareing, among other places, hope to invite some guest chefs along soon, who they hope will match their style of cooking to the wines that are in stock.

Things finally seem to be settling down after a turbulent period. The couple, both 35, lost their jobs during lockdown, so after eight years in London, they came to Barker’s home city and set up Mistral. Then they had to constantly adapt - offering delivery for when we were all trapped at home, and now organising a civilised drinking experience, for when you don’t necessarily want to visit a crowded pub.

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However, they’ve managed to establish a devoted customer base and haven’t regretted their timing.

“Being able to work with wines we love and share them with people is great”, says Barker. ”There are always sketchy moments and uncertainty when things get quiet, but we’ve learned to deal with these times and find ways to move forward and plan around them”.

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