terroirs wine bar & restaurant

clams, vermouth and aioli

Last night we had dinner at Terroirs with the in-laws who were in town for a 2-day stopover. Located in the West End, the wine bar serves food (a selection of charcuterie, cheese, small plates and plat du jour) all day from 12pm to 11pm alongside wine from an extensive 25-page list. Chef and co-owner Ed Wilson wanted to bring over to London the Parisian natural wine bar concept – superb, rarely-seen wines, informal yet informed service, and excellent, hearty food. They pride themselves on offering “natural wines”, or wines that have been made without added sugars or foreign yeasts (and often without sulphur). In addition to wine there is also an impressive list of artisan eaux de vie, liqueurs and ciders.

After entering the oppressively warm restaurant (there is no air-conditioning, madness considering the open kitchen behind the bar), we were given the evening’s menu. The menu apparently changes daily but looked pretty much identical to the one we had on our first visit to Terroirs, back in June. While we were perusing the food choices we left the wine selection in the capable hands of my wine-importer father-in-law, who decided on a Savennieres Cuvee les Genets 1999 from Domaine Laureau and a Ruchottes-Chambertin 2006 from Philippe Pacalet.

steak tartare

The Savennieres, a Chenin Blanc from the Loire region, had a vanilla scent with a faint hint of marzipan which had great depth of flavour, was beautifully balanced with a well integrated acidity, and continued to develop in the glass. It paired perfectly with the starter of Clams, Vermouth and Aioli – the clams small, plump and sweet, beautiful with the creamy garlicky aioli (the vermouth broth however, was a tad salty). I found the steak tartare a bit heavy on the horseradish (but then I have quite a low tolerance for it) and capers but B had no complaints and quite liked it.

pot roasted quail

Having enjoyed the Pot Roasted Quail (with Italian artichokes, pancetta and gremolata) on our last visit we both ordered it again and it was just as tasty as remembered, although a touch over-cooked. The Ruchottes-Chambertin (a Burgundian Pinot Noir) we drank with it had a nose of raspberries with a faintly earthy undertone. It took a bit of time to open and freshen up but then was quite pleasant with reasonable length and light gamey notes.

gateau basque

Unfortunately the entire meal was marred by the uncomfortable heat (the two tiny fans they had set up failed to offer any respite), this did not go unnoticed by our waiter who assured us there were plans for setting up air-conditioning in the near future. Needing a cool-down I ordered an iced coffee with my dessert of Gateau Basque – essentially a thin shortcrust pastry pie filled with an orange-scented custard. The custard was nice and I could have done with a lot more of it – the pastry to filling ratio was far too high. B ordered cheeses to finish off his wine, a soft mildly smoky Fourme D’Ambert and a creamy Rocamadour.

Chef Wilson has definitely achieved everything he wanted to with Terroirs – great wine list, simple, no-nonsense food made with good quality produce and a friendly and refreshingly knowledgeable staff. It’s no wonder that the wine bar is a regular haunt for wine buffs and off-duty chefs. We will most certainly be back (once the new air-con has been installed).

Terroirs Wine Bar and Restaurant
5 William IV Street
London, WC2N 4DW

t. 020 7036 0660

Terroirs on Urbanspoon

~ by gourmettraveller on September 11, 2009.

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