Good Natural Wine And Food In The Hood

Bread. It’s one of the most basic of foods. One of the oldest ways of satisfying hunger. But when done right, bread can be outstandingly good. When bread is done with care, it can even outshine the rest of the meal.

Bread can make or break an experience at a restaurant. Many times, it’s the first morsel of food that we taste after having a bread basket put in front of us. It happens before we have the chance to sample the food we’ve ordered. Good bread serves a prelude of what’s to come, letting us know that we made the right choice of restaurant and wet our appetite for the rest of the meal.

So it was with great joy that we tucked into the first piece of bread at Elliot’s Cafe, just next to Borough Market. It arrived soon after our first glass of wine. In fact, it was wine that brought us to Elliot’s. We’ve walked past it numerous times, but never went in. Then, we saw it listed on Isabelle Legeron‘s book: Natural Wine: An Introduction To Organic And Biodynamic Wines Made Naturally, and decided it was worth a try. What we didn’t know is that Ms Legeron, considered one of the leading experts in natural wine, actually curates the wine list at Elliot’s.

But we digress. Wine, one might argue, is a good reason to deviate from a topic, but let’s go back to bread. The bread, we were told, is made specifically for Elliot’s by Bread Ahead, just down the road. We’re regular shoppers from Bread Ahead, and their bread is quite outstanding. This was no different. The crust was crusty and the inside soft and chewy. It was warm, which meant that the lightly salted butter melted as we spread it. We devoured the first basket and asked for more. Our server gently obliged.

By then we had decided on a bottle of wine, one by Nicolas Joly, a pioneer of biodynamic wine. We’d both heard about Joly’s family wine estate in the Loire Valley’s Savenni√®res, and in fact his methods are reviewed in Legeron’s book. And we’d tasted a bottle of his wine before. At ¬£65 this chenin blanc wasn’t exactly cheap, but so worth every penny. It was rich but dry, with a deep golden color. The first sip made us put down our glass with a sigh on contentment, before raising it back to our mouths for a second sip of heaven.

IMG_8846 Next came the food. We were hungry and decided to sample a few of Elliot’s small plates and then share a main, but skip sides. First came grilled chicken hearts with lardo.

IMG_8843(We were too keen to eat to realize that our photo was blurry,) The hearts are caramelized to perfection, browned on the outside and beautifully pink inside, with a bite to them. Thankfully we still had some of the delicious bread to soak up the fantastic juice that was left on the plate.

We then moved on to the Cobble Lane salami plate, and again we enjoyed every morsel. We absolutely love salami and this was the good stuff that makes you want more.

IMG_8844Next came the grilled squid with ink, onions, and cicerchia. Only one of us could eat this since the other is allergic to fish. It was fishy in the right kind of way. The last plate was the garlic and Comte souffle with Camone tomatoes. And this was absolutely outstanding.

IMG_8849The souffle was soft and gooey and tasted of good aged cheese. The surrounding tomatoes were sweet, with so much flavor that every bite felt like a punch to the face — in a good way. This is a dish that we could have every single day, for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. And as a snack. Just absolutely outstanding.

On the recommendation of one of the servers, we decided to share the English rose veal. The grilled feather blade for two came highly recommended and for the right reasons.

IMG_8852First, this is a generous portion for two people. It had a fantastic crust on the outside but the inside was the most beautiful pink. Every morsel tasted divine, both on its own as well as with the condiments that were put in front of us — mustard, a type of chimichurri, and a garlic spread.

We polished our plates and were too stuffed for desert. It was a pity because considering how amazing everything was, we’re sure desert wouldn’t have disappointed. Instead, we decided to end our meal with a glass of Muscat, clinking our glasses to the next time we go back to Elliot’s. We simply can’t wait.

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