Wilding is no ordinary restaurant and wine bar, it is also a wine shop with a seemingly equal focus on wine as food.

The Salisbury restaurant, which opened its High Street doors in August, is the second eatery of wine expert Kent Barker (the first opened in Oxford in May).

Wilding's name originates from the practice of regenerating overworked land to return it to nature; an ethos that sits at the heart of the concept from founder Barker, who wants to create a venue where wine and food are matched and enjoyed in a creative, unpretentious and engaging way.

I popped in for dinner on a Saturday night when it was encouraging to find the restaurant bustling with happy diners keen to try this new concept in fine dining.

Seated by a window in the welcoming and stylishly-designed interior, my partner and I could see the 350 odd wines on display in the wine shop.

Salisbury Journal: Wilding wine shop. Picture by Charlie MckayWilding wine shop. Picture by Charlie Mckay

We ordered our aperitifs, as recommended by head of wine Sarah Helliwell, mine the 'Frose' – a grown up slush puppy of Provence rosé wine and my partner's the house spritz made from English sparkling wine with Somerset blackcurrant and citrus.

While sipping on our ice cool beverages, we perused the menu – which included nibbles and small plates, main courses from the grill and a selection of pizzas as well as set meal 'boards'.

When ordering wine, I probably don't usually give as much thought as I should as to whether it pairs well with my food choice, so having Sarah there was a breath of fresh air.

We were interested in the Butcher's Cut steaks, so after bringing the two different cuts on offer to the table to show us, Sarah ran through the wine list with us, attentively asking which wines we would normally drink and whether we like a medium or heavy bodied.

She narrowed it down to three or four that would finely accompany the medium-rare T-bone that we ordered.

I opted for the heavy bodied Alice Vieira de Sousa Reserve 2019 red wine from Portugal. This is a very elegant and smooth wine with the taste of fresh fruit and a hint of spices.

There was enough time to chat and enjoy our drinks before our starters arrived. Mine - the Goats Cheese Souffle was light and fluffy complimented beautifully by a green pea and broad bean soup, while the Frito Misto with Aioili was a tasty mixture of fried seafood in batter, including whitebait and squid with a creamy garlic dip.

Our main dish was something to behold - the huge T-bone steak arrived on a wooden board, placed in the centre of the table for us both to share.

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Cooked to pink perfection and sprinkled with sea salt, it was served with a jug of meaty jus and a bowl of watercress and was tender and utterly delicious.

We also went for sides of homemade skin-on fries, buttered peas and runner beans and bashed garlic and rapeseed oil mash - all wonderfully tasty accompaniments.

Sarah certainly knows her stuff and the robust red wine was well balanced with the rich red meat.

After the decadent main, we shared a dessert of chocolate fudge cake with honeycomb while sipping on smooth flat whites.

With Wilding, Kent Barker is aiming to provide a platform for as many local producers as possible.

The 400-strong, low-intervention wine list sits alongside a concise seasonal cocktail menu and food offering from chef Dominique Goltinger, making use of seasonal, locally-sourced and biodiverse ingredients.

While Sarah Helliwell's carefully curated list of wines originate from local, sustainable and passionate producers.

Wines by the bottle include Bride Valley Cremant sourced from Dorset (£27), an Organic Austrian Zweigelt and five low-intervention orange wines (also available by the glass), with over 200 selected bottles available to purchase from the wine shop.

Wilding offers something a little bit extra, making it stand out head and shoulders above other restaurants in the city. It really is somewhere to eat, drink and be merry.

www.wilding.wine | @wilding_sal

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