Sunday, 5 July 2009


I've heard mixed review about Terroirs but I like the concept and have wanted to visit for some time. Finally getting round to it this weekend when Thomas and I found ourselves in central London unusually early for a Saturday after a preview screening in Leicester Square. Perfect opportunity for an impromptu lunch.

We hadn't booked so ate at the bar, we were overwhelmed by the stifling temperature as soon as we entered the place, and it wasn't even particularly hot outside. We were both slightly hungover too so it really got to us and despite our close proximity to a fan it was pretty unbearable and we hurried through the meal because of it. Not exactly the 'fun and stimulating' environment they are claiming to provide on their website.

We were given mineral water for free because of the heat, the least they could do and feeling slightly worse for wear we wisely steered clear of booze.

As for the food, I was keen to try the duck rillettes, I liked the flavour and it's great value at £5 for 2 generous servings. Thomas liked it less the more he ate but I thought it was nicely seasoned, meaty and satisfying. It was rustically presented on a small wooden board with a little ramekin of capers and silverskin pickled onions.

The bread is really very good too, excellent value again, lots of it for only £1.50 and there's a bottle of olive oil on each table to pour at your own leisure, it tasted nutty and fruity.

Next we got the Cantabrian anchovies which came with shallots, unsalted butter and some toasted bread. I liked this a lot, the stack of anchovies looked like an octopus! They were superior anchovies and were strong and tasty. Perfect with the crunch of the toast and the subtle sharpness of the shallot. Great sourcing of ingredients, but not really an example of fine cooking, this requires little skill to assemble.

There was a lot of butter, with the anchovies and a pot with each of the two bread servings, we left most of it, all unsalted. I really don't see much point in unsalted butter in anything other than baking, Thomas mentioned that in Germany they have only unsalted and he prefers this. I'm usually disappointed when there's no salt in it or salt for you to add yourself yet I see that here for example the purity of the other flavours is of the essence and the butter is merely for moistening purposes.

The last dish we got was the clams with vermouth and aioli. To be honest I wasn't overly impressed with this for several reasons. There was no discernible vermouth in the sauce, it was basically just fat. They were swimming in olive oil. It really tasted of little else. There was something green in there and sprinkled over the top, this added no flavour and I can't even identify what it is, I think probably parsley.

The clams themselves were nice but it puzzles me when aioli or similar is splodged on top of a dish like this. The majority of it remained on the shells, surely serving it separately would be better? There were also a couple that were closed, 1 that was smashed with fragments of shell lying in the bowl and one was slightly open and on further inspection was filled with black goo, quite vile. I would have liked these to have been removed before serving.

I found the staff to be fairly attentive, however once I had ordered the waitress left before Thomas had a chance to pick something, we had to grab another waiter to ask for the anchovies. The place really filled up while we were there and I can see the appeal of this kind of dining. It reminded me of Barrafina which as it happens, was our venue that very evening for dinner. I prefer the food there and perhaps we missed the point somewhat by not having any wine but I felt my stomach was well and truly lined in preparation for the Gay Pride festivities in Soho. I work just around the corner now I've moved office, I'll probably be back for dinner at some point, I urge you to visit in a cooler month.

5 William IV St

Terroirs on Urbanspoon


Helen Yuet Ling Pang said...

Terroirs has been on my list for ages, but somehow I've never really felt like visiting it for some reason. And now I know not to visit until the autumn! Barrafina is one of my favourites by the way. It always delivers and I always look forward to eating there...

Anonymous said...

The heat in there is really ridiculous. When I mentioned it to the patron I even got a slightly annoyed look and was treated as if I were being difficult. it must have been almost 40degrees around the entrance area, absolutely unbareable.

I shall not return.

Boo said...

Helen - yeah, i'd definitely wait until a cooler spell to visit if you're still keen. I agree about Barrafina, they're consistently super.

Anonymous - Thanks for the comment, it was insanely hot, they have a serious problem if it's putting people off so much.

Laissez Fare said...

I ate there in the winter, and had a wonderful dinner with my family. I thought the food was solid and we had about 10 different things all together. The wine list is also really interesting, so would recommend going back when you have a chance to explore it. They are very knowledgeable and know a lot of the producers whose wines they serve...

Boo said...

Yes, I think that wine may be the key to a great meal there, as opposed to an average one. I shall have to wait until it's cooler though to even think about giving them a second go.

Lizzie said...

I've wanted to go here for a while, but I think I'll definitely go when I have the capacity to drink some wine, as they do specialise in it. Hungover and hot - not a good combo!

Boo said...

Tell me about it - it was a shambles really, hangover was self inflicted obviously but it was a fairly cool outside at the time compared to earlier in the week.

Anonymous said...

I was told by the manager that they had applied to the council for planning permission to install aircon but that the bureaucrats were sitting on their hands. To be fair they were very apologetic and were giving away unlimited water. By the way I had a fantastic meal there and the wine list is sensational.

Boo said...

Well when we visited they suggested we sit at the bar because the only other place available was right next to the air conditioning unit and would be too noisy.

Glad you enjoyed your meal, many people have only good things to say so I think we were unlucky.