Not many people know the name of this bar, because the only signage it displays is from the building’s previous iteration as the West Lynn organic butcher. Some of the features within serve as reminders of that previous life – the white tiles on one wall and the industrial door hooks from which a heavy velvet curtain now hangs.
Despite its history, Freida Margolis is warm and friendly and has a lovely dilapidated grandeur about it, this bar is what hipster was before it became mainstream. It doesn’t try, it simply is. I’d even go as far as to say that Freida’s is the dream local bar, the kind of hangout that makes you want to move to the neighbourhood and make friends with Jennifer Aniston. The owners are so laid back that asking for a wine or beer recommendation always seems to be accepted as an offering of friendship. They don’t serve just simple beer and wine here, they serve drinks with a side of neighbourliness and community.
The drinks list is small and features only boutique wines and craft beers – when we last visited they had Garage Project’s Sauvin Nouveau on tap, a beer made with pinot noir juice, alongside similarly interesting stouts and ales. Each drink at Freida Margolis feels like a discovery of sorts, one to be enjoyed slowly with good conversation. These drinks are complimented by a small tapas menu with perfect bowls of crispy shoestring fries and sliders. In the winter they make mulled wine that will warm you right down to your bones, and if you sit outside the blasting heaters keep you cosy as you chatter.
I guess the one thing that sums up the brilliance of Freida Margolis, for me, is the piano. It sits quietly in the corner, and occasionally someone sits down and starts to play – not in a contrived, theatrical way, but simply because it’s there, and pianos are meant to be played.
If I ever owned a bar I’d want it to be just like this. In the meantime, I’m quite glad I get to go along and pretend to be local.