I first went to Rondo la Cave a couple of years ago when I saw a snap of the Detroit-style deep dish that Four Corners was doling out during its residency there. Combine these serious slabs of pizza with a funky but clean, crisp take on Provence rosé from Freddie Cossard – made with 20-year-old Cinsault – and I fell in love. The residencies that followed both caught my eye – Chet’s Thai-Americana junk food courtesy of Night+Market’s Kris Yenbamroong, and Dollars, a celebration of the deli sandwich from Singapore’s Andrei Soen, and then Brooklyn’s Four Horsemen. I wanted to catch each one, but didn’t. When I saw that Four Corners was back – and this time for good, the pull was too much to resist.
The natty-leaning wine bar is tucked beneath The Hoxton in Holborn. Unlike the sleek-yet-casual minimalism of the hotel, this basement channels dive-bar chic. A neon sign welcomes you as you descend to a slightly gloomy space, with an open kitchen, chalkboard menus, rustic wooden panelling – spotlessly clean yet with just a hint of grunge.
Operating as both a wine bar and shop (with some particularly fun beers and ciders too, although those aren’t all available to drink in), the list is firmly natural, with few familiar names. But in amongst these are reassuring signals of good taste – such as a rosé from Judith Beck (vibrant, juicy, moreish and a touch reductive) or the cult Domaine des Ardoisières Argile Blanc. The “house red” is a País//Cabernet/Carignan blend – juicy, savoury and fruity, the sort of thing that is perfect pizza fare.
And the pizza, oh the pizza. Trays of two-inch-thick focaccia are re-baked with cheese around the edge, forming a filthily savoury, fat-crisped crust to each pie. The list of topping options is short and simple, with specials making guest appearances. The red top (tomato, cheddar, mozzarella, pecorino and oregano) sets the bar, with its sweet-and-salty balance. Pistachio and mortadella combines a pistachio pesto with flutters of mortadella (surely the king of cold cuts?) and soft, creamy mounds of burrata. The soppressata combines gentle heat and meaty richness with sweet arrabbiata sauce and honey, the cut of basil making it the most moreish of them all. Slices are generous, verging on obscene, yet the base feels so airy, the combination of flavours so addictive, that it’s easy to devour much more than you intend to. Fortunately, doggy bags are offered freely.
To finish, we had a fascinating hopped rosé from Weninger. This curiosity sat somewhere between cider and wine, with a pleasing savoury, almost bretty feel, but still lifted fruit and freshness, as well as a satisfying phenolic grip. As we were about to leave, a member of the team arrived with a mystery gallon jug, scribbled with permanent marker. Sweetcorn, chilli, mezcal and several other ingredients were combined to make a maverick twist on an old fashioned – smoky, fiery, savoury and totally lethal. it’s just one marker of the service here, that draws you in, making you an insider.
It’s not flawless. Some wines were out of stock, one member of the team didn’t really know the wine list or if things were available, and I’d have loved it if the Brooklyn Ghost Bottlings they sell in the shop were on the list to drink in. But, beyond that, this joint feeds your guiltiest dreams with undeniable class, blending junk food and funky wine to create a spot that exudes fun. The one downside of Four Corners’ return? Calories now feature on the menu. Don’t bring your reading glasses, and you’ll have a much better time. Ignorance, in this instance, really is bliss.
Four Corners at Rondo la Cave, 199-206 High Holborn, London WC1V 7BD