Rising like a phoenix from the Chinese ashes of Weng Wah House, this Hampstead wine bar is promising a modern British menu (with matching wines, naturally) ahead of its opening last week. Wine and potentially amazing food? We got down there immediately...
Moody, romantic and rather sexy, The Truscott Cellar is the antithesis of most Haverstock Hill venues – and hugely welcome in a gastronomical stagnant pocket of north London. It is owned by Andrew and Mary-Jane Fishwick, who run Maida Vale’s highly successful Truscott Arms. Dark wood, marble counters, and low lighting create a smoochy atmosphere on both floors, with diners and drinkers seated along the sleek bar or at small, intimate tables. Bottles line the kitchen partition, a nod to the staggering 380 wines offered, many available by the glass. With vintages from Armenia to Argentina on their list, the Fishwicks seem intent on educating our palates. Judging by the intense, mineral Herri Mina 2013 and the organic Loimer Grüner Veltliner 2013, they’re succeeding.
Chef Aidan McGee rustles up a selection of seasonal small plates with a very British accent. Beef chips, made from slow-braised beef cheek wrapped in polenta and served with homemade brown sauce, are a highlight: tender and perfect for a cold autumn evening. So too is the meat board, which contains a finely chosen selection of rich potted duck and pressed British pork. Our braised rabbit, served in the shape of croquettes, was a tad chewy and the Cornish cod could have done with more seasoning, but the range and quality of the dishes here is above and beyond that of most wine bars.
As with any brand new venue, there are a few mild teething problems – largely in the form of slightly scatty service, although when you can catch their eye the waiters are friendly, helpful and full of excellent recommendations. Our verdict? The Cellar is a great asset if you’re a local, and even worth braving the Northern Line for if you’re not.
This article was published 17 September 2015