YOU might remember the Little Wine Shop in Bath Place, but did you know that Philippe Messy, 48, has joined forces with lifelong friend Max Palmer, 57, to create a wine bar, wine shop, platter bar and soon-to-be deli in the heart of Taunton.

Max said: “I would like to thank Taunton for welcoming me straight out of Covent Garden four months ago.

“They have been great and very encouraging about the business we have started.”

Philippe and Max met 30 years ago when they worked for Marco Pierre White at Harvey’s.


Somerset County Gazette:

Who is Max Palmer? 

Since then Max has worked as front of house for Marco Pierre White, Heston Blumenthal and Pierre Koffmann.

Max said: “For the last four to five years, I have been working sourcing British cheeses and cured meats for Borough Market. And now I am here.

“I am not a trained chef. What I have learnt is about quality control of produce. If you find a really good product, the product should speak for itself.

“Philippe over the years has been phoning me up on a regular basis and asking me if I am tired of London yet and I have always been saying no I’m fine and then last year I decided that I had and came to Taunton.”

Somerset County Gazette:

The Little Wine Shop and Social Wine Bar

So, combining Philippe’s knowledge of Taunton and The Little Wine Shop and Max’s wealth of front of house experience – the pair have now opened The Little Wine Shop and Social Wine Bar on Foundry Road, near Riverside Place and St James Street.

Max and Philippe are aiming to move away from the idea of the starter, main course and dessert format and just let people choose a platter of things they fancy.

The pair have created a wine bar, wine shop, platter bar and soon-to-be deli. You can pop in and have a nice glass of wine or beer and some meats and cheeses and then buy the ones you like on your way out.

They will never have ovens in the kitchen as they don’t plan to serve hot food, but Max is keen to add a small induction stove and grill so that later in the year, they can add a few more grilled dishes and potentially soup dishes to the menu.

Somerset County Gazette:

Platter Bar

Max added: “The concept of the food side is that I source everything, and we have a kitchen where you can create your own platters – hence why we call ourselves a platter bar.

“You can take a piece of this and that to build your own. And then we have a selection of side dishes to accompany what you have chosen.

“I am not a trained chef, but I have worked in the kitchens of all the places I have been front of house.

“I found that if you have a really good piece of something then you should leave it alone and let it speak for itself.

“We are trying to find a lot of South West producers, and we also have some speciality cheeses coming over from France to complement the British cheeses.

“We also have 100% British cured meats, I’ve got a local smokery and fermenter working for us.”

Somerset County Gazette:

More wine? 

Max and Philippe source the wines both nationally and internationally to make sure they find the best quality bottles for the shop and bar.

Max explained that he has also found some sparkling wine and still wine producers within ten to 15 miles of Taunton – as well as some brilliant cider makers too, of course.

Max said: “I’ve just come across some great cured meats from Surrey, they reckon they will be one of the best cured meat products on the market.

“Philippe has found a lovely local gin and we have found a really nice Pino Noir producer about 15 miles from us.

“If you just want to buy a bottle of wine that’s fine, if you want to sit and have a cold glass of wine and a beer that’s also fine, we’ve also got a range of spirits and this is evolving and growing as we do.”

Somerset County Gazette:

Local support 

Max and Philippe are also keen to make sure the team they employ are experienced and knowledgeable about the produce they sell.

he team all have different jobs, but Max explained that it is so important for them all to work together.

Max added: “We are continually learning all of us. We are continually doing tastings for both food and wine.”

The pair are also planning on including wine tastings and classes in the future.

Max said: “We are three weeks in and we are very pleased with the way things are going.

“We want people to come in and have a good time, and recommend to their friends and colleagues.

“All of the businesses around us have been so supportive which is wonderful. We are all individuals together trying to do business and working with each other as much as we can.”

The Wine shop is open from 9:30am and the platters are available from 11:30am until 9:30pm.

On Thursday, Friday and Saturday, the bar is open until 11pm.

If you would like to find out more visit or call 01823 288 898.