Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Terroir Wine Bar: A Hidden Gem in the Heart London

If you could dream up the perfect wine bar then this would probably be it: an atmospheric little place tucked away on a small street between the Strand and Covent Garden in the heart of London's West End, serving great food and wine at terrifically reasonable prices. Opened in 2008 by Guildford-based wine merchant Les Caves de Pyrene, Terroir serves sensational tapas, charcuterie and small plates that while mostly French, have some Spanish, Italian and British touches and the occasional Middle Eastern influence, with a menu of ever-changing dishes such as Christian Parra Boudin Noir with Polenta and Chanterelles, Lincolnshire Smoked Eel and Celeriac Remoulade, Pluma Iberia with Pommes Purée, Cavolo Nero and Sage Butter Sauce, and their signature Pork & Pistachio Terrine. And then there's the wine — to say its pivotal is an understatement. Terroirs’ wine list is impressive, with an intimidatingly long wine list of natural wines, many of which are organic and biodynamically produced, sourced from small scale, artisan winemakers — in short wines that encapsulate the notion of 'terroir'. The length and unfamiliarity of the list might be momentarily overwhelming, but one of Terroirs' knowledgeable group of sommeliers are soon at hand, perching on the corner of a neighbouring table to talk us through the options, which included some sensational open bottles from a special Aussie Wine Night the previous evening. With warm, friendly and professional service, inspired menu and excellent wines, Terroirs has become a firm favourite with theatre goers and workers in the area, and it's easy to see why.  

Terroirs' daily lunch special featured on the outside board

Terroirs menu is short but sweet, offering an excellent selection of fish, shellfish, duck, 
cheese and charcuterie

Artisan sourdough bread from E5 Bakehouse in East London,
made with organic, locally-sourced ingredients

Hackney Wild Country Loaf and Semi-Sourdough Baguette from E5,
an independent, organic bakery

I let our waiter make the wine suggestions and he did a marvellous job serving open wines from a recent Aussie Wine Night like this Tussie Mussie Pinot Gris from Quealy Winery, Melbourne

The luscious Aussie Pinot Gris from Quealy Winery outside of Melbourne

A perfectly ripe Camembert de Normandie, one of four spectacular cheeses at Terroirs

Lincolnshire Smoked Eel with a mustardy celeriac remoulade

Creamy Burrata with Samphire, olive oil and lemon zest

Steak Tartare

Heritage Cauliflower with Pine Nuts, Mâche and Autumn Truffles

Venison Ragu with Soft Polenta and Girolles

Mackerel à la Plancha with Salsa

Smoked Eel, Pickles Beetroot and Horseradish
Serves 6
Recipe courtesy of Terroirs

2 red beets, peeled and thinly sliced on a mandolin 
1/2 cup olive oil 
7 tsp white wine vinegar 
1 oz mild honey 
1 tsp white sugar 
6 thyme sprigs, plus extra leaves to serve 
3/4 cup whipping cream 
2 oz fresh horseradish, finely grated on a Microplane 
1 tbsp cider vinegar 
6 pieces of smoked eel, about 2 oz each 
1 loaf of crusty bread

Place the beets in a non-reactive container and set aside. Stir the oil, vinegar, honey and sugar in a saucepan over medium heat to dissolve sugar, about 3-5 minutes. Cool slightly then pour over the beets. Add some thyme, then cover and refrigerate for the flavours to develop, at least 6 hours or overnight.

Whisk the cream into soft peaks in a bowl, then fold in the horseradish and cider vinegar. Season to taste and refrigerate until required.

Drain the beets, reserving the brine, and arrange on serving plates. Top with eel and spoonfuls of horseradish cream, then drizzle with a little reserved marinade, scatter with extra thyme and season to taste; serve with crusty bread.

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