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Monday, 22 September 2014

Pescatori - WC Wine & Charcuterie - Drakes Tabanco

Following on from my June catchup post, here is a round-up of some great outings from the beginning of July, before America, Canada and Scotland got in the way.

Thursday 10th July - First up, a lovely lunch at Pescatori, a classy Italian seafood restaurant which holds court in both Fitzrovia and Mayfair.  Mary and I popped in to the Charlotte Street branch to fill up on fish.

Slightly better weather would have allowed us to sit outside on their attractive new terrace space (which even has its own menu Mon-Fri 3.00-5.30pm), but the restaurant is no less impressive.  It's a much larger site than I first realised, and several local suits in the know were already halfway through their mains when we sat down.




The A La Carte menu is fairly extensive which must keep the chefs on their toes.  We started with a very fresh & generous portion of Bruschetta di granchio (handpicked Dorset crab, with avocado on toasted bread - £10.50) along with a classic plate of Prosciutto with parmesan shavings (£9.95) - can't go wrong.

Bruschetta di granchio - fresh handpicked Dorset crab with avocado

Freshly sliced Parma ham with parmesan shavings
We tested the chefs (and waiting staff) a little more with our mains, opting for Spaghettini all'aragosta, their signature pasta dish with native lobster, San Marzano tomatoes, garlic & chilli, and a special salt baked seabass with samphire, which was skilfully prepared in record time at the table.

The spaghetti (£22.50) was large enough for two, and a delight to eat.  Simple flavours, done very well. Meanwhile, the seabass was a beautifully cooked, melt in your mouth fish feast.  Our planned three courses was starting to look a little unnecessary.

Spaghettini all'aragosta - Native lobster, San Marzano tomatoes, garlic & chilli



Salt baked seabass with samphire
The epic proportions of the excellent main dishes nearly defeated us, but we roused ourselves to share a dessert. It didn't let us down.

Gnocchi di latte - sweet baked dumplings with glazed dark rum.  I'm a big fan of almost every word in that description.  

It was possibly the best pudding I've had all year, and I've had my fair share.  Easy on the eye, not so on the arteries, it easily stretched to two people and was a steal at £6.50.  



Gnocchi di latte - sweet baked dumplings with dark glazed rum
A fantastic way to round off a luxury lunch.  Prices are fairly steep, though not for the area, and as I mentioned above, one massive main course would definitely do you for the day, though don't you dare leave without eating some of those dumplings first. 

View the menu and follow Matt The List on Zomato

Pescatori on Urbanspoon

Square Meal
Later that day, I was out and about again, this time for the launch of WC Wine & Charcuterie.  You've guessed it, it's a wine and charcuterie bar inside a refurbished 100 year old public toilet, right next to Clapham Common tube station.  I like to think that they went through a few options in the pub first before deciding what to specialise in - "Wedding Cakes? Walkers Crisps? Wychwood Cider? Wensleydale Cheese? I've got it, WINE AND CHARCUTERIE"

WC follows The Attendant and Bermondsey Arts Club down the London bog route, though planning apparently started a few years ago and just took a long time to sort out.  It was worth the wait as they have totally transformed the space into a beautiful, cosy wine bar, extending old cubicle walls & doors to create booths, and using old wine crates in a variety of ways.  There is also a rather pleasant garden up at street level, enclosed by white picket fences





They apparently unearthed a number of gems when they were refurbishing, including some rather raunchy letters that are on show for all to see in the men's bathroom (which uses original urinals). You can also find some entertaining old school graffiti scratched in to the wooden booths if you explore closely with a light on your phone.


I guess I should talk about Wine & Charcuterie now?  Well, the thing is, I'm no wine expert, and we were drinking bubbles when we went, but I have no doubt that they have a very strong wine list.  More my scene is the Brixton beer on tap.  

As for food, you have several options.  

Small plates including - Chadwick’s Black pudding Scotch egg & pickles £4, Iberico Leg w/ gherkins  - £8, and a special - Foie gras parfait for 2 with Pedro Ximinez jelly, cornichons bread - £10.

Charcuterie board at £15 - Coppa, Hungarian paprika & chilli, WC Ham hock terrine, Wild Boar Salami, Bresaola, Smoked duck breast (£2 supplement)

Cheese board at £15 - Brie de Meaux (cow, France), Cantal, (cow, France), Drunken Burt, (cow, Cheshire), Golden Cross, (goat, Sussex), Fourme d’Ambert, (cow, France)

Superior Cheese & Charcuterie at £25 - Smoked duck breast, Jesus De Lyon, Truffle Salami, Pork Rillette, Brie De Meaux with wild honey, Fourme d’Ambert, Piccalilli, Mixed Olives, Sourdough & oils

There's also a mezze platter, a ploughman's board, oysters and salads - plenty to keep you happy.






All in all, we were very impressed, though a return visit is required to fully explore the food and drink.  WC is not a gimmicky bar in a toilet It's an atmospheric, classy wine bar, perfect for dates, or pre dinner / cinema drinks, and a great addition to Clapham Common.  

Friday 11th July - I'll quickly mention another pleasant meal in Fitzrovia, even though I wasn't really on blogger duty (friend's birthday meal, no camera at the ready).  Drakes Tabanco is a charming little sherry & tapas joint, "named after Sir Francis Drake, who accidentally kick-started Britain’s sherry industry after returning from his raid on Cadiz with 3000 butts of sherry contraband."

Shamelessly lifting more directly from their excellent website:

"Unfortunately the Brits were never fully exposed to the real stuff, hidden away for years in the great cellars of Jerez. Think dry, long-aged and full-bodied, like many fine wines, served chilled in a wine glass. The real gems are carefully nurtured over many years and released without being processed (en rama), meaning they retain their fullest character. It’s with these treasures that Drakes Tabanco hopes to excite a new generation – but this time without the cannons!

Tabancos are unique because they serve straight from the barrel, and for good reason – it tastes better. Drakes Tabanco is no exception, housing some of the finest wines Jerez has to offer.

They’re terrific on their own of course, but are simply mind-blowing when partnered with the right food. So with this in mind, we’ve created an Andalucian-inspired menu to bring out the best in both. But don’t be surprised to see a few wildcards thrown in from time to time, such as goose rillettes paired with a chilled glass of fino en rama. Why…because they’re just great together."







Out of character for me, I ignored the Spanish Rosita craft beers (yet to try) and went for a Fino "en rama" Especial sherry from Fernando de Castilla, £4.60 for 75ml.  Bone dry, it split the table, but was right up my street.  More wine and sherry flowed throughout the meal, some poured straight from the barrel.


As we booked as large group, Drakes chose the food and brought out an endless supply of tapas plates for a set price (£20/head ish if I remember rightly? Don't quote me on that).

I'm pretty sure it included the following and much more besides, but I could be wrong as it all happened so fast!

Smoked Pork Sausage £4
Cured Iberico Pork Tongue £3.50
Salchichon (salami-style) £5.50
Cecina (cured beef), Celeriac Remoulade       £9.50
Salt Cod Stuffed Piquillo Peppers, Flaked Almonds £5
Salmon Gravadlax, Beetroot, Horseradish Cream     £6.50
Deep Fried Baby Squid £6.00
Grilled Octopus, Chickpea & Chorizo £9/£18
Goose Rillettes, Toast, Gherkins, Caperberries £6.50
Pork & Oxtail Meatballs      £4.5
Braised Pig Cheeks, Hazelnuts, Potato Purée £7.5/ £15

At any rate, excellent value for money, and consistently delicious.   Superb charcuterie gave way to showstopping grilled octopus and braised pig cheeks via moreish salt cod stuffed peppers and salmon gravadlax.  I'd happily let Drakes choose my food every day of the week.  Desserts weren't quite as exciting though perhaps we were all a little too full by that point.  





In summary, it was a wonderful sociable meal,  with classy booze - highly recommended.

View the menu and follow Matt The List on Zomato

Square Meal

Drakes Tabanco on Urbanspoon

Matt The Tumblr latest from Scotland:


- Isle of Islay Whisky Distilleries - Set 1 / Set 2 / Set 3

Map The List Update:

We came across an excellent iOS app for using Map The List on mobiles - MapsEngine Viewer. It works very smoothly online (worth the $2.99), and you can cache it all to use offline too. We used it all around America offline to great effect. Sadly there's no Android version yet so you will need to make do with Maps Engine Lite app (free) for the moment. 

Map The List versions of Chicago, New York, Minneapolis and Toronto are available upon request. Feel free to email me at matthew1hickman [at] gmail [dot] com for maps and tips.

Map The List : London

Map The List : New York (left) and Chicago (right)

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