Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Eat European: Terroirs, Covent Garden

Last Saturday saw the first official meeting of “The Unspecified Day of the Week, Maybe Once or Twice a Month Club" for those who like to eat a lot (I realise the name needs a bit of work). It was tasked to me to find a suitable location for our inaugural meeting, and after generating a lot of good press in the food blogging world, Terroirs was the location of choice. Accompanying me were the two co-founders, the cannon and the irrepressible (and for once, not late) sis no 2.

Terroirs is about food and wine, where its all about "the purity of the product". Along with the one sheet food menu came their many page wine encyclopaedia. Impressive if you fancy a glug, but we were here to eat and stuck to the water. The food menu is succinct, straightforward and comprises mainly of rustic style dishes. We took an executive decision between the three of us to order as much as we could physically manage.

First to arrive was some bread and butter alongside a portion of duck scratching. The duck scratching were basically fried bits of duck skin and nuggets of meat. These were really delicious, and unbelievably moreish. The sourdough bread, although hard work owing to its chewiness was well worth the extra work, and smothered with the unsalted butter complemented the salty morsels of duck wonderfully. These vanished almost as soon as it hit the table and next time, I'm making sure I order a portion to myself.

Duck Rillettes - Bit of a duck overload here. After the scratching came the rillettes, unctuous and rich. These were also really good, with deep duck flavours bound together with the natural duck fat. Accompanying along side were a mini bowl of cornichons, which frankly, were just not sharp enough to compete with the creamy richness of the rillettes. I know a piccalilli of sorts would have gone down very well.

Globe Artichoke with Anchoiade - This is a dish with an aspect of sentimentality for me. One of the dishes my mother used to cook for us when we were kids was a simply cooked artichoke doused in a garlic and herb based vinaigrette. Fresh and lovely on so many levels. The Terroirs version comprised of said artichoke (with the spiky bits of the heart removed, result!) accompanied by an anchovy based dip. I baulk at the thought of anchovies so stayed well clear of the dip, but the cannon dove straight in. Then stopped abruptly. Although a fan of anchovies, this was too much for her delicate taste buds, declaring it too strong and overpowering, could definitely benefit from being milder.

Piperade Basquaise with Chorizo - In my eyes, the star of the show. The slow roasted, stewed peppers had a really smooth and slightly gooey consistency. It sang of caramelised sweetness. This was nicely contrasted with the savoury smokiness of the paprika rich chorizo. I felt that this was a really well balanced dish and although strictly not mine, I snaffled tasters here and there and when its owner gave up the fight, I happily assisted in clearing the pan clean.

Pot Roasted Quail, Italian Artichokes, Pancetta and Gremolata - This arrived in a mini creuset and its unveiling felt like we were opening a present. We huddled round as I lifted off the lid and sounds of "oooh" could be heard echoing around the dining room. It was very pretty but with the tasting came disappointment. I thought that the quail was actually quite bland and the meat tough. The jus was tasty but very heavy with rosemary and muted the rest of the flavours in the dish. I'm afraid I don't think the Gremolata added anything.

Whole Dorset Crab - Sis no 2 opted for the crab. Although on the small plates menu, I don't think anybody could confuse this as one, its a whole crab for heavens sake! Owing to my particular aversion to this particular crustacean (most crustaceans actually), I abstained from the tasting but was told that it was very nice. And for £12, cant really complain, that's pretty good value for a whole cooked animal!

Alphonso Mango Rice Conde - This was essentially a rice pudding with bits of mango through it. My family are all mango fans and my sisters is a big rice pudding fan so she was very happy with this. Personally, I thought it could have done with being a bit sweeter, a strange request for the naturally sweet alphonso mangoes. Are these mangoes in season yet?

Panna Cotta and Raspberries - A simple dish well executed. The cannon hits another home run with her choice yet again. Sweet vanilla panna cotta with sharp tangy raspberries.

Crepe and Griottine Cherries - A nice dish with aspects of heaven and hell. The crepes were filled with a luscious custard which escaped and oozed all over the plate once the crepe was broken. On the minus side, the cherries and sauce were extremely kirsch heavy. Alcohol is often used to complement the dish by giving a warm sensation on the back of the throat. This felt like someone was trying to burn it down. It overpowered the taste of the cherries.

Terroirs, in a nutshell, is a great addition to the London dining seen. It had its highs and lows, but when the highs are so memorable, then the lows pale into comparison. The food was flavoursome, the service pleasant (although one of the waiters did manage to spill water all over our table) and a great ambience. The best surprise? The bill. Coming to just under £25 a head for a packed 3 course meal inclusive of service is fantastic value.

I know our little "club" is looking forward to its next feed. Let hope its as memorable and enjoyable as this one. Salut!

Terroirs (Website) 5 William IV Street, WC2N 4DW

Terroirs on Urbanspoon

1 comment:

Boo said...

That's really great value for such good quality food. The crab in particular for £12. I'm yet to try this out but have read so many goods things, it's top of my list!