Douglas + Hale: chic Joburg bar offers a whopping 66 wines by the glass

Replacing The National, chef James Diack's new creation is a space where you can enjoy a drink with delicious French-inspired food as an added bonus

22 November 2018 - 00:00 By Catherine Black
Douglas + Hale is a serious 'wine by the glass'-focused establishment.
Douglas + Hale is a serious 'wine by the glass'-focused establishment.
Image: Supplied

The National in Parktown North, Joburg, is no longer. But loyal fans need not despair, because its replacement is still a James Diack creation.

Named after his grandfathers, Douglas + Hale marks the chef's entry into the wine bar space, with a simple menu of signature provenance-inspired food to match, all sourced from his family’s Brightside farm in the Magaliesberg. 

He tells us more.

What was the reason for replacing The National with Douglas + Hale?

The National opened three years ago, which is a really good run for a Joburg restaurant. I’ve had the idea for a wine bar in my head for a while – I originally studied viticulture, so I have a passion for wine, and now seemed as good a time as any.

We’d planned a refresh for The National, but I decided to make a complete change instead, and I’m really pleased with the result.

What’s your overall vision for it?

To create a small, simple space where people can come and enjoy a great glass of wine, or a phenomenal cocktail, in beautiful surroundings. The delicious provenance-inspired food is a bonus.

Douglas + Hale's Chicken liver pate, molasses melba toast, marmalade and straw wine jelly.
Douglas + Hale's Chicken liver pate, molasses melba toast, marmalade and straw wine jelly.
Image: Supplied

Is it a wine bar first and restaurant second, or vice versa?

It’s both – though perhaps slightly more heavily weighted towards the bar.

It’s about serving really great wine and cocktails, in a beautiful environment out of beautiful Riedel glassware.

Second, we serve some great food to match – some nibbles, a few starters and some great mains – all from the farm. We also have daily pasta specials: R150 for a glass of wine and a bowl of pasta.

Douglas + Hale's New York Sour - Bourbon, lemon, syrup, egg white and red wine.
Douglas + Hale's New York Sour - Bourbon, lemon, syrup, egg white and red wine.
Image: Supplied

Tell us more about your cocktails?

Jesse Chinn is our in-house mixologist, and he likes to find out more about a person and what their “poison” is before making them a drink. Having studied photography and metaphysics, aesthetic and intention are important to him.

“I believe in putting out a stylish drink that remedies the customer – kind of like the way an apothecary used to work,” he says.

How have you selected your wines?

This is a serious “wine by the glass”-focused establishment. Currently there are 66 wines by the glass, ranging from R33 to R900.

As per all of my restaurants’ policy to only use outside suppliers who share my passion for provenance, we only stock wines where we have visited the farm and share values with the winemakers.

Some special mention wines include some of South Africa’s most talented and prestigious winemakers such as Eben Sadie, Chris Alheit and Hannes Storm.


This article was originally published in the Sunday Times Neighbourhood: Property and Lifestyle guide. Visit Yourneighbourhood.co.za


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