Witnessing a neighbourhood bar solidify its place in a community's heart is a magical thing. When husband and wife Wilson and Isabelle Shawyer opened their bar in Goodwood in December 2020, they did so quietly, intent on getting to know their immediate neighbours. That said, everyone is treated like a local in this friendly, suburban space (including their dogs). The young couple was inspired by the sitcom Cheers and their bar, on the corner of Goodwood Road and Gilbert Street (hence the name) exudes warmth.
Wilson spreads charm and conversation, moving between window benches and bistro-style sidewalk seating, often taking a perch at tables to describe the generous wine list. There's something for everyone; from affordable small batch treasures to DRC by the glass.
"In our industry, a lot of really cool and rare wines unfortunately get hoarded and sold off privately, rather than hitting the shelves," says Wilson. "I wanted to give people the chance to enjoy them, by pricing them accessibly, and listing every wine and allocation we receive."
The wine list changes regularly, multiple times a week for drops by the glass. In the three years since opening, the lovely little haunt underwent a metamorphosis of sorts. Expansion came in the form of a dining space, reimagined by local architects. Suddenly, Good Gilbert doubled in size and chefs who previously navigated a tiny kitchen had more space in which to play.
New chef Ash Peek and his team now work in full view. Diners settle back in banquettes built by local bespoke furniture maker Gabe Turner while playful snacks like dried lasagne sticks, Ukrainian-style cabbage rolls, and protein-focused large plates are also full of surprises.
Regular dinners, showcasing guest winemakers from near and far, also keep things fresh. "We aren't big believers in food and wine pairing (shock, horror) and while there is definitely a place for it in the world, we just believe you should drink whatever you like, with whatever you like," says Wilson.
There's creativity everywhere; from Billie Justice Thomson's eye-catching wine bottle mural on the exterior, to the beautiful mosaic French tile feature underfoot. Thousands of corks (applied one by one by the Shawyers and their pals) wrap their way around the bar and are a reminder of just how hands-on the initial fit-out was. Look closely and you'll see a humorous nod to the building's former life as an adult store.
Humour, professionalism, thrilling vinous variety, Good Gilbert serves it all.