48 Gresham St
London EC2V 7AY
(Nearest tube – Bank)
BY NEAL MARTIN | AUGUST 12, 2022
dozen Maldon rock oysters with Chardonnay pickled shallots
prawns - crudo – lemon oil & Maldon sea salt
anchovies, sourdough & seaweed butter
soup with langoustines and samphire
fried Cornish plaice, sweet corn, langoustine consommé & fresh clams
of French cheeses
Sélection Jean Germain (Henri Germain) Meursault Les Poruzots 1er Cru
|1985 Domaine des Comtes-Lafon
Montrachet Grand Cru
|1999 Domaine de l’Arlot
Romanée-Saint-Vivant Grand Cru
|1991 Domaine Hubert Lignier
Clos de la Roche Grand Cru
|1974 Robert Mondavi Winery
Vinous Table does not concern La Cabotte in Nuits-Saint-Georges. I love its Burgundy
namesake. Indeed, they have many similarities. However, if you look out of the
window of the La Cabotte in question, you will see harried City workers
sweating in their suits, double-decker buses and black cabs; banks and currency
exchanges. La Cabotte lies in the heart of the financial centre in London,
literally around the corner from the Bank of England. It’s almost perverse that
arguably the city’s finest Burgundy-inspired restaurant is located in a
postcode that’s never been renowned for fine dining; that has historically
tended to drift towards west London and more recently, east and south. Therein
lies the genius of its location. La Cabotte is a powerful magnet for legions of
Pinot-obsessed stockbrokers and hedge fund managers (who one could argue are
the only people that can afford Burgundy’s wines!); it has resisted temptation to
fleece the pockets of its affluent clientele and just goes about its job,
serving cracking French-inspired cuisine at reasonable prices, its wines mostly
devoid of horrendous multiple mark-ups. La Cabotte is rather ace.
dined at La Cabotte practically since its opening day. Co-founders and Master
Sommeliers Xavier Rousset and Gearoid Devaney are both long-term acquaintances,
the former had already opened the widely-praised “Texture” and the popular
28-50 bars, the latter one of the founders of Burgundy specialist, Flint Wines.
It occupies two floors with two private dining rooms on the upper level. The
décor is simple, with whitewashed hallways and white linen on tables. There’s a
bustling atmosphere at La Cabotte, a sense of liveliness. In fact, it can get a
bit noisy when the ground floor is full, which it usually is. The menu, under
chef Edward Boarland is based around Gallic dishes that have become more and
more refined in recent years, to the point where this supper is the best I have
ever eaten here.
Sicilian prawns - crudo – lemon oil & Maldon sea salt.
ordered three “snacks” to begin. The half-dozen Maldon rock oysters come from
my home county of Essex, famous for its salt but also a dab hand at bivalves.
These were fresh and quite subtle in flavour, less saline than others I have
recently eaten, the Chardonnay-pickled shallots adding a welcome tang. The Sicilian
prawns with crudo, lemon oil & Maldon sea salt were succulent and sweet,
though my favourite was the Cantabrian anchovies that delivered potent
salinity, almost overwhelming the superb sourdough & seaweed butter.
Pea soup with langoustines and samphire.
For a starter,
I chose pea soup with langoustines and samphire. This was outstanding, a
brilliant dish, perfectly seasoned, packed full of flavour, the langoustine
moist and sweet. This soup was so fresh and not too heavy, perfect for a warm
July evening. This is up there with my favourite starters of the year.
Pan fried Cornish plaice, sweet corn, langoustine consommé & fresh clams.
Cornish plaice came with nuggets of sweet corn, langoustine consommé and fresh
clams. The fish was perfectly cooked with a crispy skin and flaky flesh, the clams
full of flavour (in fact, I could have done with more) and the consommé so
delicious that I spent a couple of minutes scraping the bowl with my spoon.
700-strong wine list is centred around Burgundy, and it is stupendous - easily
one of the best in the capital. Pages of Burgundy are listed by Village AC with
more older vintages than you will find elsewhere. (Some of La Cabotte’s backers
are notable Burgundy collectors who list parts of their personal collection.) The
list does broaden out to other regions, astutely chosen as you would guess with
two MS’s at the helm, yet Burgundy is the calling card.
occasion, we brought our own wines and ordered one from the list. We commenced
in style with an utterly sublime 1972 Meursault Les Poruzots 1er Cru from Sélection
Jean Germain. Now, this took a bit of investigation because the 0.25-hectare
plot was inherited from François Jobard the following year. The label was torn
but bore the name “Sélection Jean Germain”. So perhaps Henri bought the fruit
in that year before acquiring the plot? Its half-century age is evidenced by
its burnished gold colour, though clear and showing no turbidity. The nose is
glorious, transmogrifying over an hour, initially backward but developing
beautifully with dried honey, candle wax, lanolin and grilled almond aromas.
The palate has wonderful weight and density, yet compelling clarity that is only
enhanced by aeration. This was one of those magical wines where you could see
this Meursault stretching out, gaining concentration, its honeyed texture and
subtle spiciness on the finish utterly seductive. Unfortunately the 1985
Montrachet Grand Cru from Domaine des Comtes-Lafon did not meet
expectations. Maybe an unrepresentative bottle? I hope so. It felt fatigued and
slightly oxidative on both the nose and the palate. I was willing it on, hoping
that it would respond to aeration like the 1971 Montrachet in Hong Kong one
time. In fact, it seemed to deteriorate, maybe miffed that it was totally
outclassed by Germain’s Meursault. Oh well.
On this occasion, the Meursault showed the Montrachet the art of ageing.
reds follow. The 1999 Romanée-Saint-Vivant Grand Cru from Domaine de
l’Arlot is ordered from the list. This was made by erstwhile winemaker
Jean-Pierre de Smet, who oversaw the running of the de l’Arlot for two decades after
it was acquired by AXA in 1987. It delivers a cornucopia of red berry fruit on
the nose, complemented by wilted rose petals, light damp loamy scents and a
touch of crushed stone. It gains layers by the minute. It comes replete with
the fine-boned tannins one expects from this Grand Cru, a bewitching sense of
symmetry and a harmonious, satin-textured finish that exerts just the right
amount of grip. Probably at its peak, this is a sublime Pinot Noir. (As an
aside, the last time I was at La Cabotte was last October for a comprehensive
Domaine de l’Arlot tasting with Géraldine Godot – must get that
Clos de la Roche Grand Cru from Domaine Hubert Lignier was a bottle
that Laurent Lignier himself had given one of the guests to compensate for a
corked bottle at a vertical
in 2020. This is a glorious Clos de la Roche firing on all cylinders. It
was a drastically reduced yield due to hail at flowering, which explains the
intense aromatics, black cherries, iris flower and a scintilla of Earl Grey. The
1991 displays brilliant delineation and vigour after three decades. The palate
is beautifully balanced with that arching structure that I recall from a couple
of bottles drunk when this was around 10 years of age. Fine grip, surfeit with
vigour, it has so much swagger on the finish; a Clos de la Roche that stands as
one of the Domaine’s crowning achievements.
final wine is one that offered by yours truly. I sought a wine that would
deliver the goods since there would be “serious kit” on the table, yet I wanted
something off-piste, notwithstanding that these days I can ill-afford bottles
of Grand Cru! Back in 2009, I participated in a vertical of Robert Mondavi’s
Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve back to the inaugural 1966. Perhaps I should dig out
my notes some time. I suspect largely due to Mondavi’s name besmirched by commerciality
in recent years, its organiser, Linden Wilkie, found selling tickets difficult.
he ended up giving most of the tickets away. Secondly, it was one of the
greatest verticals of that era. Thirdly, it was the only occasion when everyone
refused to leave the Institute of Directors so that we could finish the
fond memories encouraged me to buy a 1974 Cabernet Sauvignon from
Robert Mondavi. We’re not even talking about the Reserve here; the regular
cuvée was produced in relatively large quantities (50,000 cases odd?). Poured
blind to my guests, it delivered…and some. Fresh as a daisy on the nose, it
blossoms with black fruit, pencil lead, touches of black truffle and cedar, all
beautifully defined, stylistically equidistant between Napa and the Médoc. The
palate is perfectly balanced and inspired by Left Bank claret, albeit
infinitely superior to anything produced in the Médoc in that dismal season. It
is imbued with such freshness and vitality, skipping along as if its 48-years
meant absolutely nothing. All this accomplished with a “whopping” 12% alcohol
according to the label. Brilliant.
finished a thoroughly enjoyable evening. A small number of people, a small
number of bottles, fantastic cuisine, first-class service and the usual lively
cross-table banter – you could not ask for more. Prices are extremely
reasonable within the current inflationary climate. If you are a Burgundy lover
with time in London, then this restaurant has to be one of your first ports of
call. I just hope those stockbrokers and hedge fund managers appreciate the
quality of dining on their doorstep. Given that La Cabotte always seems full, I
think they do.
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