Monday, 4 October 2010

The Providores, Marylebone - Man O' War Wine Dinner

Roast New Zealand venison on smoked celeriac and potato gratin
with silverbeet and roast cherries

The Tapa Room at The Providores has long been one of my favourite places to drink great Monmouth coffee and eat a satisfying breakfast of sweetcorn and blueberry fritters, Turkish eggs with whipped yoghurt and hot chilli butter or perfectly soft boiled eggs with Vegemite soldiers. Moments after I stepped, bleary eyed, off my Qantas flight to London 4 years ago, and was promptly turned in the right direction by my (Melbourne-style breakfast starved) Australian friends, I was sold. The Providores has to have one of the best and most interesting breakfast menus in London (hence the often off putting queues out the front door).

Upstairs from the Tapa Room is The Providores dining room. It was there I recently attended one of the restaurant's regular Winemaker's Dinners - this time hosting the excellent Man O' War wines from New Zealand.

When the word "fusion" is used in relation to food these days, it's often met with a collective sigh - many attempting it get it so, so wrong, earning the term a grim reputation. New Zealand chef, Peter Gordon, gets it entirely spot on at The Providores, a restaurant he opened with Michael McGrath (among others) in 2001. The mood is relaxed, the food is thrilling.

On arrival we are treated to a glass of Man O' War Sauvignon Blanc 2009, a well balanced wine with ripe fruity freshness. Sauvignon Blanc is not normally my wine of choice, but I had a feeling I was on my way to a great night as soon as I sipped this one.

After some introductions from the winery, Michael McGrath, Peter Gordon and head chef Cristian Hossack, we move on to a lovely salad of goats curd, roasted beetroot, salad greens and kikones (crunchy, salted maize kernels) with Man O' War extra virgin olive oil. It is beautifully matched by the Man O' War Chardonnay 2008 with citrus, butter and appley notes.

My favourite food and wine pairing of the night has to be the pressed ham hock and water chestnut terrine with wok-fried mange tout, green mango and pickled bean sprouts. It's dressed with a light pineapple sweet and sour sauce and paired with a marvellous Valhalla Chardonnay 2009 - with new oak, it's nutty and toasty.

A Gresshingham duck char siu bun is the best shar siu bun of my life. And I've tried a few. It accompanies a roast duck breast with ginger and garlic sauteed pea shoots and soy braised lotus root. Along side, we drink the Ironclad Merlot Cabernet Franc 2008 - lots of berries, spice and tannins.

The roast New Zealand venison on smoked celeriac and potato grain with silverbeet and roast cherries is accompanied by a terrific bold and peppery Dreadnought Syrah 2008. As wonderful as it reads, the gratin was the only slight disappointment of the evening - it tasted less like smoked cream and more like licking a burnt saucepan than one would hope for.

To finish, an apricot sorbet, burnt caramel ice cream and zabaglione parfait with a ginger lace biscuit. Aaaah, heavenly. A Valkyrie Viognier 2009 is the perfect tart, apricoty accompaniment.

Man O' War Vineyards is a patchwork of 90 small sites across 4,500 acres at the east coast of Waiheke Island. The wines gain their minerality from the position of the vines on rugged coastal hillsides. In London, Man O' War wines are stocked at Harvey Nichols (and, of course, you can drink them at The Providores).

Not only were the Man O' War wines fantastic in their own right, but Peter Gordon and Cristian Hossack designed a menu which complimented them beautifully, while losing nothing of the edge on their usual flair in the kitchen.

The Providores Wine Dinners tend to sell out quickly so look out for them on the website - they are usually priced at around £70 per head for food (5 courses in this case) and plentiful wine. The Providores is hosting a special Pop Up New Zealand Wine Dinner at The Village Underground in Shoreditch on 19 October 2010. The dinner will feature a range of New Zealand wines from various vineyards, as well a 4 course meal cooked by The Providores team. Each course is accompanied by a flight of 3 wines. Tickets are £125.

The Providores and Tapa Room, 109 Marylebone High Street, Marylebone, London W1U 4RX (Tel: 020 7935 6175)

Greedy Diva attended the wine dinner as a guest of Providores.

Providores on Urbanspoon


  1. Providores is one of those places I have been meaning to go to pretty much since it opened (the same year I arrives in The Big Smoke). And yet, somehow, I've never made it. Sounds like something of a culinary mistake, although I have tried a couple of occasions, but never managed to get a table.

    It is so rare to get fusion right, and so few - so very few - ever manage it. I would avoid it, if it weren't for some of the stunning fusion cooking I've eaten in Australia and US. It's good to know someone in London is getting it right.

    Those wines sound very interesting, big flavours living up to their norse mythology/warship names. I love it when a name indicates the sort of wine you're getting.

  2. Thanks for the reminder... haven't been to Providores for AGES! Glad to hear they've still got it, I've got some really fond memories. What was the crowd like at the wine event?


  3. The Grubworm - I really recommend it. It is hard to get a seat for breakfast on the weekends, but try booking for the upstairs restaurant and then we can compare notes!

    Grumbling Gourmet - The crowd was quite a mix - old and young, some serious (and well known) wine buffs and ... me. There were 3 big long tables - I sat with a friend, May, next to some complete strangers and we all had a great time.


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