Terroirs Wine Bar & Restaurant
5 William IV Street
London WC2N 4DW
Reviewed on Saturday 13 June 2009
I like the presentation of Terroirs with its different levels. In the basement you have the wine bar and the ground level at the right when you enter is for the restaurant. It feels like a bistrot in France. The waiters are very likely French by the way. We had a table next to the windows and we found the ventilation in our location weak: we were overheating a little. It must be an ongoing problem since there was a fan right behind us (see photo 3 below). It was too close to be directed on us unfortunately.
First thing we ordered was the bread and butter (£1.50) and a tapenade & crostini (£2.50). The bread was excellent, really very good. The tapenade was not so good and we waited for a while before it arrived. We thought it was forgotten. I found it too much on the salty side but then I am maybe spoiled getting “real” tapenade going monthly to Nice where my parents live. The crostini was too greasy, not sure what kind of oil they used but it tasted of nothing. Just hard and greasy. The still water (£1.50) was needed. The bread was a much better match with the tapenade than the crostini it came with.
Nice bread & butter (£1.50)
Tapenade & Crostini (£2.50)
The tapenade was a little too salty and the crostini too greasy unfortunately
For main courses we chose from the plats du jour the braised shoulder of Cornish lamb, couscous, aubergine & harissa (£14) and the slow cooked Suffolk pork belly, chick peas and morcilla (£13). The red wine was a Domaine Causse Marines 2006 Gaillac Rouge “Peyrouzelles” (£29) which was great. I saw online you can buy 6 bottles for £ 13.99 each so the restaurant price is just twice the retail price which is very good. At Albannach it was over four time the normal price…
The pork belly wasn’t too good. It was mostly fat, with very little meat attached, and very salty in patches. The “crispy” skin wasn’t so much crispy as rock hard with some risk of damaging your teeth (for those with dentures – consider yourself warned!) and the chickpeas were just nasty (very bland). Overall, a very disappointing meal which wasn’t helped by the small serving dish with high sides which necessitated a vertical attack with cuttlery and made it very difficult to cut the meat. Most of this dish went back to the kitchen uneaten. If you want a decent pork belly, you can get much bigger, better (and cheaper at less than £10) not far away at the Ship Tavern in Holborn.
The braised shoulder of Cornish lamb was good and it was nicely presented with the aubergine on top of it. It was very tender and it did not smell too much of the lamb. The couscous was fine but I was disappointed not to have more harissa, especially since I lived in Tunisia for some time where the harissa originates from. There was just a tiny little red patch and that was it. If it is that small to the point you cannot taste it, why to bother promoting it on the menu? Same remark as above about the small deep dish. It is cute but it does not help for eating the couscous.
Slow cooked Suffolk pork belly, chick peas and morcilla (£13)
Braised shoulder of Cornish lamb, couscous, aubergine & harissa (£14)
Overview of the two main courses
While the lamb was fine (the plate is empty), the pork belly was not great and the chick peas just bad.
As dessert we ordered a panna cotta, English raspberries (£5) and a bitter chocolate pot (£5). The raspberries (all 5 of them) were fine, but the panna cotta had a very fake flavour, was over-sweet and somewhat slimy texture that wasn’t too pleasant. Another abandonment. The bitter chocolate pot was indeed bitter but it was unremarkable. I ate it because I was hungry.
Panna cotta, English raspberries (£5)
Bitter chocolate pot (£5)
Overview of the two desserts
The bitter chocolate pot was ok, but we could not eat the awful panna cotta.
Cost and conclusion: it was just below £80, with the “optional service charge of 12.5%” included. We found it very overpriced for what it was. The atmosphere and decor was nice but the most important, the food, was not up to our expectation with some of it being seriously bad. Still, the atmosphere was good and the wine well priced so as a wine bar we can imagine this place can be quite good. The service was friendly.