Cabotte was opened in early 2017 byXavier Rousset and Gearoid Devaney, both of whom hold the Master Sommelier qualification. As one might expect with this background, the emphasis is as much on the wine as the food, with the name being a stone hut to shelter vineyard workers. The head chef here is Edward Boarland, who trained at The Waterside Inn and under Clare Smyth at Royal Hospital Road before working in Paris as head chef at a now closed Michelin-starred restaurant called Rafael, and also with Gordon Ramsay in Versailles.
The wine list is huge, with 600 different labels on offer, and a strong emphasis on Burgundy. The list of white wines also has a lot of Chardonnays from elsewhere, though to be fair there is also a good selection of Rieslings as well as a page of other white wines. Similarly the reds have a huge selection from Burgundy, as well as Pinot Noirs from elsewhere, though they do stoop to a page or so of Bordeaux wines and a couple of pages of wine from Spain, Italy, the USA and Australia. There is also a good selection of dessert wines, a rarity in London. However this list wears its heart on its sleeve, and its love is firmly Burgundian. The list started at £32 and heads on up to the stratosphere for those with the means, up to Domaine Georges Roumier Musigny 1996 at £5,950, which incidentally is way below its current retail rice of £7,406. Sample labels were Kumeu River Chardonnay 2016 at £34 for a bottle that you can find in the high street for £19, Maison Deux Montille Soeurs et Freres Sous Fretille Pernand-Vergelesses 2012 at £60 compared to its retail price of £35 and Domaine Ballot-Millot Meursault Charmes 2011 at £125 for a wine that will set you back £70 at your local vigneron. As you move up the list the relative markups moderate, with for example Ballot Millot Perrieres Meursault 2012 at £130 compared to its shop price of £71, Comtes Lafon Clos de la Barre 1989 at £390 for a wine that retails at £238, and Coche-Dury Perrieres 2003 at £1,500 being below its current market value of £1,742. There are also mature vintages, such as Camille Girous Beaune Greves 1978 at £199 compared to its retail price of £164. One example of the kindly pricing is the Domaine Cecily Tremblay Morey-Saint-Denis Tres Girard 2014 at £135 compared to its current retail price of £174. This is a wine list that is serious, delightful, and above all good value – a rare thing indeed.
The meal began with gougeres made from Comte cheese. These were very enjoyable, the choux pastry good, though for me a touch more cheese flavour would have been ever better (14/20). A starter of poached egg “en meurette” rested in a sauce of smoked bacon and red wine. This is a traditional dish in Burgundy, the key being a deeply flavoured red wine sauce. This was very much in evidence, the sauce dark and brooding, the bacon adding a pleasing flavour note to the carefully poached egg (14/20). I tasted a starter of lamb sweetbread, the rustic country cousin of the more refined calf sweetbread that you see in more refined restaurants. This came with peas, mint and lamb jus; despite its rather pungent flavour this was also robust and carefully cooked.
My main course of beef cheek Bourgignon came with Savoy cabbage and smoked bacon. The beef was certainly tender, though my experienced dining companion noted that the cabbage flavour rather bled into the beef, so perhaps a greater separation of these flavours would be an improvement. Still, the bacon and cabbage worked well together and the beef itself was undeniably good (13/20). On the side, leek gratin was topped with a layer of cooked Comte cheese, and a side salad had a well balanced dressing (13/20).
Apple tarte tatin had pleasant pastry and apples that had been caramelised but not overcooked, as can so easily happen (14/20). A dessert of blood orange, Greek yogurt, bee pollen and honeycomb was prettily presented and was quite refreshing (13/20). Service was excellent, with a knowledgeable French sommelier/manager. The bill came to £210 a head, but that was mostly due to our considerable indulgence in the upper reaches of the wine list. If you shared a modest bottle then a typical cost per head might be around £55, which seemed quite fair to me given the enjoyable food and vinous delights on offer.