If you could dream up the perfect wine bar then this would probably be it: an atmospheric little gem 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, Terroirs serves lovely 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 Grilled Stone Bass with fennel, garlic purée, pickled radish and orange, Cornish Leaf Salad, Lincolnshire Smoked Eel and celeriac remoulade, Pork Jowl, with Hispi Cabbage and Black Garlic, 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 to discuss the tempting selection of delicious wines served by the glass. 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 — it's also one of our favourite places for lunch after visiting the National Portrait Gallery or Tate Modern.
Terroirs always has a lovely selection of open bottles for wines by the glass
Warm and friendly, the restaurant is split on two levels, with a lovely zinc bar for single diners which offers a view of the tiny kitchen
An impressive selection of wine bottles line the wall behind Terroirs leather banquettes
The short but delicious daily changing menu of inspired tapas, charcuterie and small plates
Simple table settings with a starched linen napkin, locally made earthenware plates and
modern stemware etched with Terroirs iconic logo
Peirano Estate Illusion merlot
Terroirs Forlorn Hope Albariño by the glass
A rich and delicious Albariño not from Spain but amazingly from California
Little Bread Pedlar Paul's Baguette
Pork & Pistachio Terrine
Selection of cheeses: Le Caussenard from Aveyron, Black Cow Cheddar from Dorset, Mini Cerney Ash Goat Cheese from Gloucestershire, and Dovedale Blue from Staffordshire
Terroirs Roasted Guinea Fowl with tropea onions and red peppers
Pan Seared Mackerel with radish, fennel and parsley finished with some olive oil and lemon
Fresh local asparagus with morels
Ed Wilson’s Salad of Anchoïade, Fennel and Breakfast Radishes
Makes 3 cups
Recipe courtesy of chef Ed Wilson
A simple emulsion of anchovies, garlic, vinegar and oil. This is perfect as a dip for raw vegetables such as fennel, carrots and radishes. This recipe makes quite a substantial amount, but it will keep very well covered in the fridge.
4 3/4 oz tinned anchovies drained of any excess oil
3 good sized cloves of garlic
2 fl oz of good quality red wine vinegar
3 cups vegetable oil
Water for thinning
Fresh radishes with the leaves still attached
Julienne of fennel
In a food processor, add the anchovies, garlic, vinegar and purée to a smooth paste. Very slowly start to add the vegetable oil in a slow stream like you are making a mayonnaise. The anchovies act in the same way as egg yolk’s in mayonnaise and as a protein, will emulsify the oil. Be careful and keep a close eye as the oil starts to emulsify. If you feel it becomes too thick, add a little water. This will do two things: It will thin the anchoïade, and will also stabilise the emulsion too which will stop it from splitting.
When all the oil is incorporated and you have a lovely thick garlicky, anchovy emulsion, put in a pot and dip away. Cut the fennel into julienne strips and the radishes in half lengthwise and chill in iced water. To serve, arrange a few crisp chilled radishes, crisp fennel julienne on a plate, with a bowl of anchoïade on the side for dipping. Delicious.
Crepes with Salted Butter Caramel
Serves 6 (makes 12 approx)
Recipe courtesy of chef Ed Wilson
6 oz white flour, preferably unbleached
A good pinch of salt
1 tsp castor sugar
2 large eggs and 1 or 2 egg yolks
1 1/2 cups milk, or for very crisp, light delicate pancakes, milk and water mixed
3-4 tsp melted butter
Salted Butter Caramel:
18 oz caster sugar
4 1/2 oz unsalted whole butter, diced
9 fl oz double cream
1/2 oz Maldon Salt
Put the caster sugar into a large pan over a medium heat and stir continuously until it turns into a rich caramel. You need to do this by eye, but aim for a slightly dark mahogany colour. If it is too light, the butter and cream will dilute any caramel flavour and it will lack that slightly burnt sugar taste that makes this sauce so good.
When you are happy with your caramel very carefully add your cream to stop the cooking. Be really careful to not do it too quickly as the caramel has a tendency to spit. When you have whisked in the cream, add the butter bit by bit until it is all incorporated and you have a smooth rich caramel. Allow to cool to blood temperature and then add the fleur de sel and mix so you get an even distribution. Ed says it is very important to allow the caramel to cool before doing this so that the salt crystals do not dissolve and you then get that lovely crunch.
Sieve the flour, salt, and sugar into a bowl, make a well in the centre and drop in the lightly beaten eggs. With a whisk or wooden spoon, starting in the centre, mix the egg and gradually bring in the flour. Add the liquid slowly and beat until the batter is covered with bubbles. Let the batter stand in a cold place for an hour or so — longer will do no harm. Just before you cook the pancakes stir in 3-4 dessertspoons melted butter. This will make all the difference to the flavour and texture of the pancakes and will make it possible to cook them without greasing the pan each time.
Make the pancakes in the usual way. Heat the pan to very hot, pour in just enough batter to cover the base of the pan thinly. A small ladle can also be very useful for this. Loosen the pancake around the edge, flip over with a spatula or thin egg slice, cook for a second or two on the other side, and slide off the pan onto a plate. The pancakes may be stacked on top of each other and peeled apart later.
To serve, spread a little salted caramel evenly over the warm crepe. Roll up or fold into a fan shape. Serve two per person on warm plates.