Thursday, 24 December 2009

It's Terroirs ce soir

I was skeptical about dining at a wine bar, where the emphasis is not placed on the quality of food. But the rave reviews have to be based on some truth, right? 

It was already packed with people by the time we arrived. Two couples were turned away before us. Luckily mister booked a table. Even so, it was a 10-minute wait before the table was ready, so I was seated at the bar (there was only 1 seat left) where we ordered a day's special pink bubbly each.

A French waiter showed us to our table, large enough for four, and presented us the sheet of menu and wine list. We were holding a wine directory. I decided to go by glass or half bottles, so we could sample more. Sipping on the aperitif, my head started to spin as I tried to distinguish the notes of one wine to another. Thankfully, the sommelier offered his helping hand. When I asked for good suggestions on Italian wines, he frowned, then politely proposed a few French, which I happily complied. Good thing I did. 

Selection of charcuterie – £12.50 (Duck Rillettes, Pork & Pistachio Terrine and Saucisson Sec)Excuse the fork marks, some people just wouldnt wait. It was me. 

The rillette was phenomenal. Unlike typical pates, it was coarse with shreds of duck creamed into its fat; flavours gradually diffuse their way through the taste buds. Whoa. Terrine was comparatively dimmed, it wasnt dissimilar to softened luncheon meat; the pistachio worked well to freshen up the meaty platter. It was a heavy selection, pairing rillette with terrine, but it was a satisfying one.

Gambas in Garlic
Our server told us they only have a few left, so promptly placed this single order before coming back for the rest. So thoughtful. 

I love prawns. Their shells soak up the sauce, they are fleshy and relatively hassle-free. Prawns this size are even better when fresh and cooked properly. This dish sets a role model. I havent seen it on the menu for a long time, I wish they would bring it back. 

Snails, Bacon, Garlic & Parsley
This looked alluring on paper, but sadly fell short on delivery. Bacon is dangerous. In moderate amounts and in the right gentle dishes, bacon gives it a good punch; in mass (like one slice), it just kills everything around it by numbing our taste buds with an atomic salt bomb. Only the chef thought hed combat the atomic attack with a nuclear dose of over-seasoned garlic butter on the snails, announcing Armageddon. 

To be fair, the chef has identified the bomber, and the most recent menu reads “Snail, Wild Mushroom, Garlic & Parsley. 

So far we were impressed by the wine selections made by the sommelier. When he checked back with us, he suggested a glass of Italian that has gained his approval to finish off. Sure. 

Only we werent quite done yet. 

Whole Dorset Crab, Mayonnaise
It was one sweet juicy crab. It was an easy job for the chef: boil, cool and crack. Still. 

Wine bars often take food lightly, but not Terroirs, which has mastered the arts of both. This is a place that I would check into regularly on Friday evenings, to wind down with a few glasses of good wine and great food. The downstairs menu looks vaguely similar, with slightly more complicated recipes and exotic ingredients. I am not sure if my next booking will be for the downstairs restaurant, however, because the vibrant buzz at the bar is part of the package.

5 William IV Street
London
WC2N 4DW
Tel: 0207 036 0660

You may also like: QV Bar
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