Several years ago, when Margaux Aubry Sharratt and her husband-chef Joe Sharratt opened Naughty Piglets—a wine bar and restaurant on Brixton Water Lane—their goal was to create a “relaxed natural wine bar vibe.” It never occurred to the couple that they’d be full every night.
But Joe’s food was so good—featuring dishes such as confit duck with plums and daikon (£7), wild rabbit faggot with prunes and lardo (£8), BBQ pork belly (£11), chocolate mousse with salted peanut caramel (£6)—that their reservation list now gets booked up two weeks in advance.
Originally from Lyon, Margaux likes to focus on winemakers she has visited and knows personally, and the wine list offers a selection of wines from her native France as well as a good selection from Italy, Austria, Germany, and Spain. “I’m now in love with the ‘clean’ side of natural wines,” she says. Naughty Piglets tends to offer around four red, four white, a sparkling, a pink, and an orange available by the glass or carafe. When I visited she was pouring her current favorite: SP68 from Arianna Occhipinti (£8.50 a glass).
“It’s a wine I have been drinking for a long time, but that’s particularly great at the moment,” Margaux says. “I could open a bottle every night.” Also available are offerings from the Loire region such as Les Varennes, the skin-macerated 100% Chenin from Les Roches Sèches in the heart of the Anjou (£9 a glass).
A second location, named the Other Naughty Piglet, opened six months ago in the heart of Victoria, upstairs in The Other Palace, Andrew Lloyd Webber’s new musical theater. Lloyd Webber’s son lives in Brixton, and when he visited Naughty Piglets with him, he decided the concept was perfect for The Other Palace and offered Margaux and Joe the lease. It’s a large, airy restaurant and bar, with a diverse crowd made up of theatergoers, local office workers, and regulars at the Brixton spot.
The food is equally good—all dishes are first created and tested in Brixton by Joe and then rolled out in Victoria—and you’ll find star dishes such as the XO linguini (cured egg yolk on top of a perfect bundle of linguini, with a dried scallop, dried prawn, and Parma ham sauce, £10), and the Orkney scallops with lardo and pumpkin (£16). At the back of the wine list, you’ll also find a small selection of wines from Andrew Lloyd Webber’s private cellar sold at cost, including a 1966 Domaine de la Romanée-Conti “La Tâche.”
Luckily, the owners are expanding at the Brixton location as well: they’re planning to open a 15-seat Waiting Room at the Piglet in the space downstairs in a few months, a reservation-free space dedicated to impromptu imbibing (there are currently more than 200 references), or indeed waiting for a table (or a seat at the eight-person counter) upstairs to free up. You’ll be able to order their fantastic ham croquettes (£2 each) and cheese selection (£10), though, should you need a little something.
Venetia Thompson is a British freelance journalist based in Mexico City, writing for The Guardian, GQ, Conde Nast Traveller, and VICE.