The place was packed when we, myself and Cooksister, arrived late for lunch. Half expecting the reservation to have been cancelled and the table allocated to more suited city types; like the place needed anymore! Noisy, buzzy, comfortable and, well, very pleasant. Our quick lunch spread out slightly into the afternoon (trusting that Cooksister didn’t get too much of a ticking off on her return to work well after 3:30!) by which time the suits had returned to their cubicles or fine-view corner offices and we were alone in the red bricked lower restaurant area.
“Bar Battu is something new for the Square Mile, the City’s first natural wine bar. Natural wines are all about purity and an honesty of expression, wine that reflects not only the land it has come from but the values and qualities of the farmer who has made it. Often naturally sparkling and unfiltered, they contain little or no sulphur and no preservatives. We think they are fantastic and at times even mind blowing, which is why we want to shout about them. Learning about natural wine is both easy and hard. It’s easy to try something and find that you ‘just like it’, but it’s sometimes hard to search out those special producers, tucked away in remote countryside. For that we depend on our suppliers and particularly our friends, those wonderful people at Les Caves de Pyrene. Without their enthusiasm for natural wine over many years and their immense support for Bar Battu we simply couldn’t bring you the amazing selection of small production, natural wine that we have.”
Some of Bar Battu’s wines are marked with Semi Wild/Wild (particularly powerful in taste or pungent), Cloudy (unfiltered and unfined) with many being Biodynamic. It is weighted to wines from France with a smattering of Italian and Spanish wines; nothing else.
We restricted ourselves to a carafe of Spanish Rosé (Bodega Rubio, Rioja Clarete 2009, just £9 for the 500ml carafe) it was lunch after-all, that while delicate and gentle was perfect with the Cornish Sardines and the rabbit rillet (£5.95) we selected for a starter but overpowered a touch by the main course selections of black sausage (boudin noir, mash, glazed apple and calvados jus £9.25) and the chefs special of gnocchi though. A glass of something more substantial would have been my choice but with Cooksister needing to head back to the office and a wine tasting for me later that day (after one in the morning) stifled that idea.
The food was simply divine – from the presentation of the ‘just- cooked’ fish in an oversized sardine tin (£5.oo for two fish) though to the melting texture of the sausage all was just perfect. The gnocchi, with a tomato and pepper sauce (£9 for large, main course portion), were at their fluffiest supreme, no stodge here, the generous scoop of rillets perfectly seasoned with a delightful rustic texture. There was no room for dessert but a glass of Armaganac and one of Poire William, both complementary, sealed the day.
Two starters, two main course, bread, two coffees and a cheap carafe of wine plus 12.5% service charge came in at £50.74. The wine list offers plenty of interest; if you are heading to London highly recommended. Pre-booking advisable.