With face brick walls stacked with wine bottles and minimalist interior details, fine wine bar ace + pearl is welcoming and a much-needed hotspot in Johannesburg. Since it’s opening earlier this year, ace + pearl has been bringing in small batch, high quality South African wines and other artisanal tipples that aren’t well known. Part of the wine bar’s charm is that the team tell the stories behind the carefully selected bottles, I spoke to co-owner Derynn Orpen about ace + pearl.
“It all started when my husband Terrence and I went on honeymoon and found a bottle of Cartology by Alheit Vineyards in the Cape. That was my introduction to beautiful wines and it reignited my husbands passion for wine- he studied wine making for six months but he saw the biology text book and gave that up and went into film- the experience gave the idea of opening up a wine bar.”
Derynn and Terrence started collecting unusual wines and wanted to introduce more of them to Joburg. Friendly, knowledgeable staff make all the difference and ace + pearl ensure that all staff know the stories of the wine and wine-makers with Derynn on hand to answer questions too. They aim to educate guests about the wines, so the environment is great for connoisseurs and those with a casual interest alike. Wines change every few weeks and ace + pearl hold regular ‘Meet the Maker’ evenings to introduce regulars to the people behind the beverages.
“It’s a wine bar but we don’t want it to be snooty, we want people to come in and enjoy food. The food is Parisian inspired small plates, so terrines and pates with South African twists, like a kudu pate, a lentil terrine and we do a beautiful Baratta. When we were in Paris a few weeks ago we tried a similar baratta, ours is served with strawberries, tomatoes, gooseberries and olive oil with black pepper to season. Just delicious, simple, good sharing food.” Barratta is a type of mozzarella with an incredibly soft, slightly crumbly texture reminiscent of ricotta and the delicate flavour pairs incredibly well with sweet and tart fruits. We also opted for the Charcuterie Plaque for good measure.
Derynn and Terrence are also part of the team who own and run Warm & Glad alongside Deb and Jonathan Shaw, who are involved in ace + pearl too. On the dynamic between the two spaces, Derynn says, “We hope that people will come here for a starter and then go there for the main meal or they could even come through for a nightcap.” On trips to Paris and New York the team noticed a trend of a few entities that are all connected, being owned by one group “While in Paris we went to a few restaurants that are linked, like a wine bar, a fine dining restaurant, a fish place and so on and that’s what we’re (aiming to) develop here.”
“There are a lot of places popping up but we’re hoping for longevity here, we think there’s something special here with the team. It’s all about conversation with the people coming here and storytelling.”
ace + pearl is open from 17:00 to 22:00 Tuesday through Thursday, from 15:00 on Fridays and 14:00 on Saturdays. To follow ace + pearl, see their Instagram account here @ace_and_pearl.