THE REAL WINE DRINKING GUIDE: Soif
Open since 2011, Soif is located on Battersea Rise next to Clapham Common. Working very closely with natural wine importer Les Caves de Pyrène and other small specialist merchants, it sells a varied range of natural wines and serves fresh, seasonal and innovative cuisine.
The restaurant exudes a friendly bistro atmosphere with its small terrace for summer drinking, cosy bar area and split-level restaurant. Framed photos of much loved winemakers & humorous posters (examples of Tolmer, natch, amongst them) hang on the walls, and favourite (empty) bottles populate the barrels and shelves. Various blackboards highlight events, post daily specials, itemise the changing cheese selection, and the artisanal fruit liqueurs and digestifs from Maison Laurent Cazottes. Lighting is dimmed in the evening to create a cosier ambience, and candles are scattered around the tables. Music may be blues, jazz, reggae, dub, Latino, French depending on the day, the person or the mood…
Seasonal and daily-changing with a £10 lunch special, Soif’s menu comprises cracking charcuterie, small and large plates, desserts and cheese. Dishes may include citrus cured sea bass, fennel and coriander; chopped raw beef, anchovy, rosemary and lemon; roasted hake, spinach, Datterino tomato & samphire; Loch Duart salmon, beetroot, radish and watercress and Crémet Nantais, cherries and pistachio. Desserts are paired with one of the many digestifs.
Natural wine is the thing here: a veritable tome of a list weighs in at 14-pages with 380+ wines, split into styles, regions, sub-regions and - in special cases, Vignerons. Globetrotting aside, pride of place goes to sections featuring Loire Valley (70), Jura (53) and skin contact wines (31). 14 wines are open by the glass including sparkling, champagne, white, rosé, orange and red, as well as a local artisanal draught beer. Nor are Les Soiffards averse to cracking open weird and wonderful bottles from the cellar to sell as specials on the night.
Producers we love: Nicolas Vauthier, Pierre Frick, Andreas Tscheppe
Look out for the lesser-spotted: Old vintages of Chinon from Lenoir, Breton and Chateau de Ligré, and the range of Ganevat cuvées.
We really like: Happy Mondays. A range of wines sold to drink in the restaurant at Shop prices.
Do: Pop in and sample the themed wine tastings and the Supper Club.
Key wine person(s): Emma, Maha, Ed and Michael are in the house.
27 Battersea Rise | London SW11 1HG