Fancy a change from diner a deux? Want to eat with grown-ups who don’t take food pictures all night and know how to use a knife and fork? Then White Onion’s wine dinners will be just right for you.
Sometimes it can seem as if most London restaurants are only interested in millennials – sharing menus to be eaten with the hands, food that is simplistic stuff anyone could knock up and a level of noise that leaves you hoarse from shouting.
And yet we are actually out here, we over 30s, we weirdos who are not on the pull and who want food that hasn’t been burned on a naked flame or shoved into a bun and which comes on a plate intended for one person.
And we use our mobile phones just to check the babysitter hasn’t run off or turned our home into a party venue. Facebook friends? They don’t need us to update them on our lives every five minutes, every five months will do, thanks very much.
So in this mood of Grumpy Old Git I was delighted to be invited to the White Onion Restaurant’s wine dinner featuring wines from Alsace matched with food from same. Located in lovely Wimbledon Village, South London’s answer to Hampstead, and surrounded by shops selling things I can’t afford, this place has long been on my radar. It’s a sister restaurant to award-winning Surbiton restaurant, The French Table, another proper local restaurant, aiming to stay around a long time, serving the kind of food I like.
The back room is the venue, nicely closed off from the restaurant proper and I would say warm and cosy but the aircon is a bit chilly, they turn it down on request. We sit at a long table of couples that mostly don’t already know each other but are all friendly and chatty.
Now you won’t get to eat and drink what we did, unless the dinner is repeated, but it was excellent. Each course came out at a well-paced speed, allowing for conversation, but not letting the evening drag. Each wine was poured generously, we like our wine sometimes perhaps too much, and explained clearly and interestingly. No easy task, as by the time the fourth course arrived we were all getting a trifle noisy but in a very mature way (of course).
Five courses, all excellent. I have to especially mention the lentil soup with Munster cream and cumin, topped with a jaunty, crispy, slice of ventreche (very thin bacon), This was massively flavoursome and reassuringly dense, served in just the right quantity.
Another stand out was was the smoked eel ravioli on stone bass and surrounded by leeks cooked in Riesling. And star of the show for most of us, now well happy with everything, was the venison sausage served with confit pork belly and sauerkraut with a juniper jus. Find me a chef today who knows what a jus is, let alone how to make one. This was as Autumn as falling leaves and the shock of the first winter electricity bill.
A pleasantly surprising wine had with this was the Trimbach Pinot Noir, people often say the Alsace doesn’t’do’ red wine, but this proves the naysayers wrong. They could work on the bottle though, it had 1970s designer all over it.
We finished with a cracking glass of Pinot Gris, Domaine Pierre Frick (which got the’ello’ello gags going’ and said happy goodbyes to one another. We turned down joining half the group for extra drinks in the pub, as we were driving.
Have to give proper credit to chef and the whole team at the White Onion who were looking after a busy restaurant as well us.
Their next wine event takes place on 15th November and will be centred on the Rhone, so go to the White Onion website and book your place before they all go,