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Entries in Wine-bar (7)


Where to eat in St Foy en Tarentaise

 Having visited St Foy every year for the past decade and suddenly realising that there was absolutely no literature about where to eat in this rapidly expanding town - it was time to make the ultimate guide on where to dine. Please note - all prices for dinner are estimates and include significant amounts of alcohol and that bookings in high seasons are a good idea - think a couple of months in advance for La Colonnes or a year in advance for New Years Eve.

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I had high hopes for Vinoteca. Its near to my new place of work and I had hoped this would be my "Dear God, I need a drink and some fattening food" place.  Sadly, I don't think this is it. It wasn't that it was bad, it wasn't by any stretch of the imagination, it was just very familiar.

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La Cave a Fromage

La Cave a Fromage may not seem like the obvious choice for breakfast,  given it is essentially a glorified cheese shop that serves wine, but what a wonderful brunch I had there last week. Most people can't handle wine and cheese first thing in the morning and by first thing I mean noon, luckily my new brunch buddy could. 

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La Fromagerie

I've been dying to go to La Fromagerie for ages. My normal cheese place " La Cave a Fromage", in South Ken, has been seemingly getting further and further away -  a product of my increasing laziness and lack of desire to leave the Holborn/Covent Garden/Mayfair/Marylebone area.  So one day my cheese and wine buddy - The Bestie and I decided to try it out.

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Opera Tavern - Waiting for doom

How do you deal with the impending end of the world? Simple. You drink wine and eat cheese. Obviously we were on a limited time scale, with only one and a half hours till "Rapture", which put La Cave Du Fromage in South Ken out of the question and La Fromagerie too. So Opera Tavern it was.

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Baranis - I'll take you to the South of France

Wikipedia, the source of all knowledge, describes Pétanque as "a form of boules where the goal is, while standing inside a starting circle with both feet on the ground, to throw hollow metal balls as close as possible to a small wooden ball called a cochonnet (literally "piglet") or jack."

Sounds fun, right? It conjures up images of the South of France, wine, sunshine, beaches... ahh. Oh wait, it’s February. Its cold. It’s London. But fear not, if you think a taste of the South of France is what you need in these depressing months, Baranis will help you out.

( Sorry, random people in this photo. I wasn't aiming for you)
I really hate February, as I have described in previous postsMy credit card statement is a testimony to this. As the only way I find to get me through this month is internet shopping. I mean, think about it. January, there are new presents to play with and resolutions to keep. March, it’s almost April and April has Easter, which means more sunshine and a potential holidays. May is practically Summer.  June/July/August/September its warm enough to justify drinking outside so what could be bad? October, I spend a lot of time winter wardrobe shopping so that’s not so bad. November is leading up to Christmas and December has Christmas.
Basically, my visit to Baranis could not have come at a better time. Baranis is a relatively new addition to the scene, arriving around Christmas time to the outskirts of Bankerland. It’s the bar of Cigalon (the life changing-ly good restaurant I visited last month). I had high hopes. No pressure or anything, Baranis. Anyway, back to Petanque. They have a court here. In fact, they have the only indoor court in the UK. (Please note – Petanque is not a sport for heels unless you’re particularly apt at walking on gravel in those Louboutins)

Baranis is located beneath Cigalon, in the basement area. The décor is adorable. Arches everywhere, little nooks and crannies, lime green pillars, you might as well be in the South of France. There is low lighting and mismatching chairs. It’s gorgeous. Even the waitresses are in cute and nautical, white and blue striped tops. It's weird - there is something about the atmosphere that seems to make all troubles melt away. Even better, The Boyfriend's blackberry didnt get reception so our meal went uninterupted by world collapsing/phonecalls/emails etc.
Starving, The Boyfriend and I started with a Charcuterie plate for £9.50.  I had an issue with the presentation. Maybe its my OCD/love of organization but I kind of wanted to take this, and line up all the different dried meats in columns, instead of having to poke around to find them. I liked the charcuterie but didn’t love it – I think the one at Comptoir Gascon (the Piggy Treats) is actually better and it pales in comparison to the one at Tom’s Kitchen, although it is half the price.  
We also had Bread for £1.50, which is a bargain for what we received. Normally, I don’t think you should have to pay for bread in a restaurant, but as this is really a bar/wine bar this was more than reasonable, especially when you consider how wonderful the bread was. It was warm and the lovely butter they served with it just melted away into it.
We then moved on to a selection of cheeses, which were artfully presented and another good bargain at £8.00. The cheeses were lovely and organized from mildest to strongest. The first 4 I adored, but the last 2 I found too strong. Overall? Lovely.
We then moved on to our only hot dish of the evening a squid dish with caponata for £8.00. It was again, great. The squid was perfectly cook and melded well with the aubergine and roasted peppers. Perhaps, there could have been more squid but that was my only complaint.

I have to say at this point, I normally love short menus. I hate too much choice but with Baranis I kind of felt the menu was a bit too short. Perhaps this really isn’t meant to be used as a dinner alternative, which would be a waste if that were the case. Or maybe i'm just being too picky.
We moved on to dessert where we had a citrus crème brulee for £3.00, which was perfect. Nice crunchy top, lovely smooth texture underneath and cute candied limes on top.

I didn’t love the dessert wines we had with this, which says something if I actually manage to pick up on something about the wine.  We tried 2 and I found them too bitter and aggressive to work well with the Crème Brulee but oh well. The wine list itself is pretty good. They have and impressively large section of wines from Southern France and prices start at £3.50 for a glass and £19 for a bottle. Another bargain. The cocktails also looked good.

There’s one major problem with this place however. You know when your holiday is coming to an end and you have to start packing/ hoarding the free toiletries and you start talking about what time you need to be at the airport and how you’re going to get there and suddenly you’re heart just sinks because its suddenly hits you - its over. It wasn’t real life, it was fantasy. At the risk of sounding over the top, I kind of felt like that leaving Baranis.

But eventually, we had to leave as it closes at 11. At least, my credit card issues maybe saved. It came to £60.00 most of which was booze related. Not only was this pretty good value but the experience left me so happy I probably won't be online shopping for at least a week. Its truly a wonderful place. I can't wait to come back. I just hope they like me as much as I like them, because I intend to make Baranis my every Thursday place.

115 Chancery Lane,
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I'm clearly a little behind in terms of the London food scene, as when all of London's food bloggers and critics have hit the East End to check out Brawn, I have only just visited Terroirs the original wine bar of the two. Terroirs seems to get mixed reviews from most bloggers and to be honest I wasn't too excited about the prospect, but it ticked all of my boxes which are; a) easy to get a last minute table b) not on the otherside of town, (unlike Brawn) and c) starts with a letter at the end of the alphabet, (also unlike Brawn).

Terroirs was bustling when The Boyfriend and I arrived last Thursday. The staff asked if we would mind waiting at the bar for five minutes until our table was ready, which we didnt. However, five minutes turned into 30 minutes. 25 minutes + 1 pair of 5 inch heels + crowded bar - any food =  2 less happy customers. Thankfully, the bar guy was cute (sorry, The Boyfriend), and charming and the wine was wine,  so it was hard to get too worked up. The wine and water (tap was immediately assumed) came in reusable glass bottles which was a nice touch.
When The Boyfriend and I finally made it to our table in the "upstairs" (does a staircase of 7 steps really make it an upstairs?) part of the restaurant, we discovered they had at least given us the best table in the house.



Starving, we started with Bread - £1.50 - lovely and fresh, but with boring, unsalted butter - and a charcuterie - £12.50. The Charcuterie included pork salami, duck rilletes and pork and pistachio terrine. The Charcuterie was a bit of a letdown, and I imagined this would be where they should have been strongest. The salami was nice, but it would have been better to have cut the portion in half and served a second type of dried meat. The duck rillette was bland, nothing particularly special and definitely not as good as the rillettes at Tom's Kitchen or 28-50. The Boyfriend liked the terrine but again, to me it was a little bland. 

Potted Shrimp - £8.00 - came next. The Boyfriend reported it was "pretty good".

The Beetroot salad - around £6.00 - was again equally unexciting. It was actually better looking than the photo implies but The Boyfriend and I ate the first half of it before remembering to take a photo.

The Clams however, were beautiful. A fairly large portion given the cost. The liquid was garlicky and spicy and I finished it in about 30 seconds flat. Finally, some success.

At roughly £70.00 the price was not that reasonable. What we ate wasn't interesting enough to make me desperate for a return visit and frankly, waiting 30 minutes is a little annoying if you've booked. Saying that, the table next to us had ordered the Vacherin Mont D'or with potatoes and a selection of meat at£ 36.00. It looked incredible and I spent the majority of the meal watching them eat it. So maybe I will go back for the Mont D'or, as they did look very happy while eating it.
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