Coming from Spain, there is something romantic about having a busty waitress greet you with a sultry smile and rustic french accent. Having traveling through Paris at lightening speed on a half dozen occasions – going straight from airport to bus to train – I imagined Terroirs, despite its location across from Charing Cross, as the Paris cafe I have yet to visit. Sans thick clouds of smoke, the two tiered cafe was scattered with small wooden tabletops more appropriate for a romantic interlude between two than a business meeting of four. Thick aromas of stew and game wafted through the air, while gulped laughter from half drunk bottles of ecological wine echoed off the walls. The ambiance was bustling and alive, and afforded the perfect excuse for my inner gourmand to go batty with excitement over the menu.
But before I go I delve into the gastronomical treasures, allow me to digress and chat about the etymology of the bar’s name. “Terroirs” is meant to express a sense of place of the wine through its terroir. Put in layman’s terms, the wine is not trying to be anything other than what it is; and consequently, is called natural. Therefore, wine growers will use organic or biodynamic methods in their vineyards to support the vine’s natural development. Then again, I could argue that burying cow manure and ground quartz in a vineyard stuffed in cow horns may not directly aid in a wine’s natural development, but that’s a conversation for another day (read more on biodynamic wine here). I will say, that the wineries on the menu also use minimal treatments in their wines, avoiding cultured yeasts, new oak, excessive sulfur dioxide or the addition of tannin, acid or sugar. In short, you have a diverse and exciting array of wines from primarily France and Italy. That is not to say that our famous wine producing country of Spain was not mentioned. With Guia Penin’s bright green spine sitting proudly on the coffee table behind us, the wine menu did list one, and only one, “Token Spanish Red”!
Although tempting, we skipped the Spanish red and enjoyed a carafe of Gaillac Blanc alongside a bottle of Bergerac blended with Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon. Both wines were excellent; however the white floral and pear notes on the Gaillac were especially enticing after being submerged in Iberian wines over the past year. With our meal, we chose Loire red whose funky herbal notes seemed to invoke large grins from everyone at the table, despite our dishes ranging from white fish to braised meats.
Regarding the food, it was exceptional. I had the Grilled Cornish Red Mullet, Scallop and Artichoke for £14 that was delicious. Although I found the Red Mullet a little on the tough side for my tastes, it was more the fault of the fish itself than of its preparation. But the delicate sauce and tender scallops well made up for the red mullet’s stubborn flesh. Ryan went the complete opposite direction with the Bavette, Shallots and Red Wine for £12, which was absolutely divine. Bavette, a well-trimmed skirt or flank, is a typical cut of meat in France, but was clearly well received at our London table.
And as neither of us have encountered a rhubarb that we haven’t liked, Ryan and I shared the £5. Panna Cotta is an Italian dessert preparted by simmering together milk, cream and sugar. Gelatin is later added to the mix to give it a more cohesive consistency. Consequently, the result was a creamy and silky concoction that when placed on my tongue, I literally found myself cradling it for as long as possible so that the juicy stripes of rhubarb melted together in perfect harmony with the rich creamy pistachio flavors. Sigh…it’s not often I find myself daydreaming of Panna Cotta, Pistachio and Yorkshire Rhubarb at
Mind you, the menu doesn’t stop here. You have a wide range of cured meats and sausages – including the Jamón de Teruel “Gran Aragón” D.O. – which is spoken at greater length on Jamie Goode’s blog. Additionally, Jancis Robinson recently visited Terroirs, swooning over the “‘potted foie gras mi-cuit for 2/3′ and the squid, chick peas and romesco sauce”. Not to mention the incredible looking Cheese plates that boasts of Gorgonzola from Lombardia, Italy and the Maroilles from Pas de Calais, France – to name a few. Ricard Giner recently reviewed Terroirs as well, mentioning inconsistent service and confusing wine menu consisting of tiny font and poor organization, despite the high quality wines available. Several other reviews also spoke of slow service and lack of privacy; but since we’ve only visited Terroirs once, I can’t attest to the service, but I can sympathize with the lack of privacy, as the tables are cramped together, rather tightly.
But despite a few hiccups here and there, we found Terroirs to be a must visit location in London!
If you’ve been to Terroirs Wine Bar, please pipe up and let us know your thoughts!