Terroir loosely means a group of vineyards from the same region, sharing the same type of soil, weather conditions, grapes and other attributes that give wines from a particular area character.
So when we went for an impromptu weekday dinner to Terroir, a fine dining establishment that serves European cuisine, it was appropriate that the wine list was exhaustive.
We’d had a long day so the first thing we did was to order wine by the glass for ourselves. Now, in most restaurants, you don’t have much of a choice when you order wine by the glass. There’s usually one white or one red on offer and quite often it is plonk. Terroir lived up to its name and had whites and reds from France, Italy, Spain, Chile and Australia to choose from.
We went for an Italian — Rivera Violante Nero di Troia 2006 (Rs 790 a glass), a light red with a hint of sweetness made from Aleatico grapes. As the wine arrived, we took in the ambience. Terroir is on the first floor of a shopping mall — not a very appealing location for fine dining — but its décor tries to make up for that: red sofa-style low chairs, rough red rugs and white table linen, high ceilings with muted lighting, and a lot of steel and glass. The wait staff was fastidious with its attention towards us, perhaps because we were the only people dining that evening, although there were a few people at the restaurant’s bar upstairs.
Terroir has a long wine list but a relatively compact food menu. We ordered Baby Beets with Ricotta, Organic Greens and Greek Yoghurt (Rs 225), which turned out to be a symmetric arrangement of beets, asparagus, ricotta and dollops of yoghurt. The vegetables were blanched to retain just the right degree of crispness and the portion was small but not minute. For the main course, I went for the Double Rib New Zealand Lamb Chops (Rs 1,145) and my companion a Parmesan Crusted Rack of Lamb with a Vegetable Bouquetiere (Rs 1,145). There was a lobster on the menu as was grilled sole and a mixed seafood dish, but we both went for lamb.
It wasn’t a bad choice. The lamb chops (medium rare) were succulent, although the accompanying veggies could have done with a wee bit more cooking; and the rack (well done), I gathered, was delicately flavoured and delicious. But the best part of the meal was the excellent wine. So when the plates were cleared and the dessert menu was brought, we decided to eschew the cream laden cakes and pies and opt for two more glasses. Had the food at Terroir been bad (it wasn’t), I’d still go back for the wines they stock.