Soif (“thirst”) is the sister of Terroirs and Brawn, restaurants, opening in November 2011. Like its siblings, the food emphasis is on robust bistro fare, with a wine list that reflects its owners, wine importers Les Caves de Pyrène. Chef Pascal Wiedemann was previously cooking at Terroirs. Soif is in a parade on busy Battersea Rise. There are a few tables outside, and a dining divided into two parts. The section at the back looks into an open kitchen and has a tiled floor, the front section a wooden floor; both have low ceilings and simple décor. The place is casual with no tablecloths, though linen napkins are provided.
The wine list started at £17 and had choices such as Guy Allion Sauvignon de Touraine 2010 at £19.50 for a wine that you can find in the high street for £8, Albert Mann Riesling Schloss 2009 at £59 for a wine that retails at £26, and the extremely enjoyable Paradiso Manfred Brunello Montalcino 2005 at £67 for a wine that will set you back around £59 in a shop (this is the wine that we chose). As can be seen, the mark-ups were very kindly by London standards, especially at the upper end of the list. Bread was unusually good, bought in from the St John bakery, one of London’s best (5/10).
Potted Cornish crab (£9) was pleasant, with plenty of crab flavour, slightly spicy and with just a thin layer of butter on top (3/10). Steak tartare (£8.50) was very good, nicely seasoned and with decent beef, topped with an egg (4/10). Duck leg pastilla (£16.50) was served with couscous salad and red onion jam. This Moroccan dish was successfully executed, the filo pastry of the coating thin, the duck nicely seasoned with a hint of sweetness, the couscous delicate (4/10). Grilled mackerel (£16) was simply cooked, served whole with just a salad and a salsa, capably cooked with decent flavour, though the fish itself did not compare in quality with, say, that at Kiraku (3/10).
Greengage clafoutis (£6) tasted better than it looked, the plums providing plenty of acidity to balance the batter (4/10). Bitter chocolate mousse with hazelnut sable (£6) was also enjoyable, the chocolate texture smooth, though the sable biscuits were a little too hard (3/10). Service was excellent throughout the evening, with friendly, helpful staff. The bill came to £82 a head, albeit with one of the better wines; service was included at 12.5%. If you drank a more modest wine it would be easily possible to eat three courses for around £50 a head. Overall this was a good all round experience, and if anything I slightly preferred it here to the original Terroirs. The kindly priced wine list is a real bonus: Soif is a likeable restaurant.