Posted on Wednesday, 14th March 2012
When I visited Terroirs in 2009 shortly after it opened, I thought it to be one of the most exciting wine bar and restaurants to grace the London stage. Well priced, heartfelt, rustic French cooking in an atmospheric central London location – what could be better? The offerings of ‘natural’ wines at decent prices worked a charm too. The wine bar and restaurant was obviously so successful that it spawned a second, Brawn in East London, and a third, Soif in South London.
Like Terroirs, Soif offers a reasonable range of tasting portions for sharing and main sized meals, as well as a selection of ‘natural’ wines. We started with the charcuterie platter (£12.50) of pork terrine, rillette and Toscana salami. I loved, loved, loved the rillette at Terroirs and so this was the part of the platter that I was looking forward to the most. Instead I found the version at Soif to be overly fatty and not particularly enjoyable with a disproportionately high ratio of fat to meat. The terrine on the other hand was meaty and flavoursome. The salami was also good.
Clams with lemon, garlic and coriander (£8.50) were fresh, but extremely salty to the point of being unappealing.
Montbéliard sausage (£12) was wonderfully rustic and full of meaty goodness. It was accompanied by a well prepared choucroute which was refined, light and tasty. Its delicate hint of acidity worked well with the meat. Despite the fact that the sausage skin was a little tough, this was a highly enjoyable dish.
A dish of haddock with spinach (£15.50) was nicely cooked. But it was also inconsistently and slightly over seasoned. The parsley sauce was creamy and tasty and matched the fish nicely.
A lemon polenta cake (£7) was moist with a good grainy texture. It had been drizzled with a prosecco zabaglione which was wonderfully creamy and custardy.
To me, the excellence of the rillette at Terroirs exemplified what the food at Terroirs was meant to be about – gutsy, powerful cooking that resonated with its audience. Here at Soif, the rillette was lacklustre, the seasoning, somewhat inconsistent. Soif feels like an attempt to capitalise on the formula that made Terroirs a success but which hasn’t quite hit the mark. Some dishes were good and pleasing, but it wasn’t quite an all round success.
But it has its plus points. The pricing is fairly reasonable, the service is charming, and the wine options are varied. And with its relaxed, convivial décor, it serves a purpose in the South London dining scene. It’s good enough, but, (and this is my lament) just not as good as the original when it first opened.
Food rating: 3/5
Service rating: 3.5/5
Price range: £24 – £36 for one small plate, main and dessert.
Address: 27 Battersea Rise, London SW11 1HG
Telephone: 020 7223 1112