When we first went to Shadow Wine Bar, in the Alex Hotel, last year we were very impressed so wanting to begin 2016 on a high note we decided to revisit earlier this week.
It has a slight industrial feel – exposed concrete, low steel beams with spotlights but, as well, attractive tables, chairs and booth seating, with a long bar, at which you can sit and eat, on one side and at the back partitioning the rear wine bar from the dining room, a wall of racks and wine. It is all clean lines, well lit, welcoming.
The wine list and menu change regularly; the wine list is, we reckon, one of the better around and with a very good by the glass selection; while the food shows innovation, flair and panache.
While we decided on our mains we tried three of the small bites on offer – potato crisp with crab, tuna and avocado, and pan fried haloumi.
An in-house made potato crisp – a world away from those you buy in packets – was topped with shredded crab meat and lemon infused aioli – well seasoned, creamy, succulent, and gone all too soon…
Chopped raw yellowfin tuna and avocado sat on another crisp base – delicate, juicy, fresh flavours.
And a slice of haloumi, crisp skinned with melting, oozing cheese inside, and doused in sweet honey sprinkled with black sesame seeds – by turn creamy, buttery, nutty, salty and sweet. Quite delightful.
By this time we had decided on our next step – calamari with char grilled peppers and cauliflower fattoush.
Tender calamari sat on a bed of grilled and blackened, slippery red peppers, scattered with fried pangrattato providing crunch and texture to complement the sea freshened flavours of the squid and sweetness of the peppers. Little dollops of lemon aioli added creamy, citrus lift. It was very good, indeed.
Small florets of cauliflower, chickpeas and spring onions, creamy, sharp yoghurt dressing, and aromatic mix of spices – paprika, cumin, and much more – made up the salad – nutty, crackable, snappable seed crackers substituted for the usual pita bread of the classic fattoush, and mint leaves imparted their heady aroma and taste. A few pea tendrils on top completed an attractive and refreshing dish.
With our food we shared a bottle of Express Growers 2015 Grenache rosé – deep salmon hued, it has a distinctive bouquet of cherries and summer berries, while the delicate, crisp palate is redolent of raspberries, pomegranate and a hint of citrus. Excellent food wine.
We really couldn’t, by now, resist dessert so, on recommendation, we tried the pear tarte tatin with tonka bean ice cream – and an outstanding dish it was – buttery flaky puff pastry, encasing sweet, cooked richly flavoured pears, supported by ice cream that had elements of vanilla, but with undertones of caramel, cinnamon and almonds – distinctive and delicious; you could say it is vanilla ice cream with a little more oomph!
With the dessert I sipped a glass of an Italian digestif – Amaro Averna –thick and sweet, golden colours, and caramel flavours underpinned by a gentle herbal bitterness. It matched the ice cream especially well. Lady FWO, on the other hand, tried another rosé on offer, Mengoba Brezo Rosado La Vie en Rose bright pink, raspberry aromas, and a savoury, very dry finish. The design on the label is reminiscent of USAF bomber aircraft art adding a little fun to a fabulously refreshing little wine.
Our return visit to Shadow Wine Bar and Dining Room amply reinforced our earlier conclusion that this is a kitchen of real skill and ability. Great surrounds, extremely professional and knowledgeable waiters, excellent food and drink – a must for all lovers of good food and wine.