Going out to eat around the Strand can be a bit of a minefield; it’s a task to find somewhere genuinely good and all too easy to find somewhere that preys on people who aren’t sure where to look, so they whack up the prices and cut out the quality. Then the inevitable happens and you play it safe in somewhere like Prezzo feeling rather miffed.
So don’t eat on the Strand, go back a street to Terroirs, a French bar and wine shop sitting unassumingly on William IV Street. Having opened in 2008 Terroir’s takes its inspiration from the natural wine bars in Paris, with a 200 strong wine list, many are from small, organic, sustainable and biodynamic artisan growers predominantly from France and Italy. To accompany it is a menu of carefully sourced meats from France, Italy and Spain and small plates.
The bar itself is relatively simple, it can be when things are done properly. Black and white photos adorn the bar, bottles line the window and haphazard writing is scrawled across the chalk board. A mezzanine level runs along the front and below by the open kitchen are further small tables, it’d make the perfect place for a late night date of cheese and wine, if anyone is asking…
The menu features larger plates, but for us, the smaller plates was where it was at. Thick slices of rustic granary bread were the ideal tools for scooping up duck rillettes. A rough cut slab of pork and pistachio terrine came alongside thin cuts of meat on the charcuterie board.
Their snails on toast with garlic parsley and bacon should be an example to others of exactly how to do this dish, you must order them. The bone marrow as well won praise all round, served still in the bone with pickled walnuts and yet more toast it was rich, earthy and melted beautifully. Slithers of Galician octopus with peppers and paprika, by contrast were light and serve with just a drizzle of oil.
There is a succinct menu of just four puddings, a good thing for someone who can never decide. The crème brulee’s sugar coat broke satisfyingly under the tap of a spoon to reveal the rich cream beneath. A tart, bitter chocolate and cherry pot will do away with any chocolate cravings.
Terroirs is the sort of place where you go in for one drink and end up drinking and eating your way through the entire menu, it’s welcoming, simple and expertly executed.
Images: Paul Winch Furness