A neighbourhood wine bar with a focus on unusual and interesting wines (not your run-of-the-mill, I can buy this at Pick n Pay wine), Publik is the answer to every vinous prayer. The selection is varied and changes on an almost daily basis, so you can frequent its doors and never imbibe the same glass twice.
Quite literally underground, the room is dimly lit and plays host to an older, more mature crowd. A long table and chairs seat people comfortably, creating a communal-type space, a shared experience of wine drinking and merriment. The War on Drugs croons as I write this from a wooden bar with copper cladding and views of wine labels I’ve never seen or heard of before.
The bartenders ask what type of wine you like (the day’s wine is listed on a chalkboard) and suggest a taster. If you like it, you buy it; if not, your options are varied. Prices range between R45 and R60 a glass, R200 to R300 a bottle. It’s a place where you can discover quality, lesser-known wines served by a team of aficionados who are as friendly as they are knowledgable.
Each day of the week sports a different ‘theme’, ranging from Magnum Mondays, Big Tuesdays and even a Bubbly Wednesday (our personal favourite). Owned by David Cope, his mission is to find wines made as naturally as possible from sustainably farmed vineyards, wines that are fermented without added yeasts with little or no added sulphur. Honest wines, in essence.
And that’s not even getting started on the food…
My prison meal (the last meal of my life if I had the choice) is cheese, wine and charcuterie. At Publik, it’s cheese and charcuterie to die for. A joint space with Frankie Fenner Meat Merchant, the butcher stocks the day’s bounty and oh is it good. Craft beer is also available to the not-so wine lover, and a plate of giant olives, biltong or droe wors pairs perfectly. Vegetarians and animal rights activists may be alarmed that the stylish space is shared with a butcher, but to them I say look the other way.
A night at Publik isn’t cheap (it’s very difficult to only have one glass, what with the options being so delicious) but in this case you’re paying for quality, and for that we think it’s worth it.
Photographs Bernard Myburgh Words Lisa Wallace