Friday, November 18, 2011

A sneak preview of Soif, south London's latest natural wine bar

I seldom venture south of the river if I can help it but annoyingly some of the best natural wine haunts are now establishing themselves there. Artisan & Vine, Green & Blue and now Soif, the third restaurant in the Caves de Pyrène-backed group which includes Terroirs and Brawn.

Actually I say 'now' but it doesn't open until Monday but we got a sneak preview last night when it was open to host a Green and Blue tasting with Alice Feiring who was reading from her new book Naked Wine.

I've mentioned Feiring before and will come back to the book in due course but I liked the way the tasting was pitched as an 'anti-Beaujolais nouveau night'. We tasted two proper gamays, Hervé Souhaut's Domaine Romaneaux-Destezet La Souteronne 2009, an appropriately breezy, delicious vin de soif and Foillard's much more muscular, savoury 2009 Morgon which opened up beautifully as the evening wore on.

We also got a chance to sample some of the dishes on the menu which included a very good rustic paté and a to-die-for cep and caramelised onion tart, to which the blurry photo above in no way does justice. There will also be jugged hare which is pretty exciting.

It's all very much in the same register and style as Terroirs and Brawn though slightly bigger and less hidden away than the latter and, being Battersea, with probably a rather different vibe. (Ed Wilson the executive chef of the group (below) told me he wasn't quite sure how the locals would react. Apparently a couple had already helpfully offered some suggestions about the kind of dishes they thought they should be doing. Goodness knows what they'll make of the wines and even of the name. So-if, soyf or swuf?

Anyway they're spoilt for choice if they choose to be. It's a fantastic list and the food is the kind of modern bistro that Wilson does so well (though Colin Westal who was Rowley Leigh's head chef at Le Café Anglais is the one who will be heading up the kitchen on a day-to-day basis). Incidentally he (Wilson) is also going to be acting as consultant to Green & Blue who are expanding their restaurant operation in East Dulwich from next month.

Soif is at 27 Battersea Rise, London SW11 1HG. Tel: 020 7223 1112. If you're coming from central London it's a 8-10 minute walk from Clapham Junction station.

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