North 52 Bar & Kitchen… British food and wine in Soho

All things British is what’s hot in London, what with the Olympics, the Queen’s Jubilee and of course, the ever present eat/drink local. There’s a new spot in Soho specializing in modern British food, 52 North Kitchen & Bar on Poland St. where all the ingredients are sourced from Britain, including many of the wines. A big open space, with communal tables and interestingly, wooden roof shingles instead of wallpaper covering the walls and columns. There is a long bar at running from one side of the room to the other and several old Chesterfield leather chairs and sofas in alcoves scattered around the room. There’s also a cozy basement with another bar to hang out in. What drew me into 52 North was the wine list, more specifically, they are one of the only places in Soho that features English wine by the glass, both still and sparkling. They have 5 still wines and 1 sparkling at the moment but are going to be adding more in the future. I’ve been a bit dubious about English still wines but the Biddenden Gribble Bridge ortega as well as their Bacchus were both refreshing, tasty and easy to drink. The menu consists of trad dishes like mushrooms on toast, scotch woodcock, Cornish mussels, English pork chop and Arbroath smokies fish cakes among other choices with prices about the same as many a gastropub around Central London.  I had the mushroooms and mussels which were delicious with the Biddenden Gribble Bridge 2010. The Gribble Bridge had plenty of bright citrus fruit on the nose, full of fruit but dry nonetheless. I found it very easy to drink. The Bacchus was another light wine, a good substitute for pinot grigio it has a bit more substance to it, more flavour then the average pinot grigio. Priced at £25 quid, I thought it might be a bit pricy, but Tony Ho, part of the operating team, told me that the Bacchus and Gribble Bridge have been flying out...

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Funky English varietals at the annual trade show(w/ video)

Huxelrebe, Siegerrebe, Regner, Schönburger. The ill-fated cast of characters from an little known Wagnerian opera? “Reichensteiner and Würzer are dead” -The original title? Rondo, Ortega, and Phoenix. The Mexican villains from a Clint Eastwood spaghetti western? Madeleine Angevine. Latest X-Factor winner? Triomphe. A sports car? Orion – oh, I know that, that’s a constellation, right? Well, yes and no. Orion is a constellation but it’s also a cool climate hybrid varietal used in England to produce wine.   In fact, all of the above are just some of the rather esoterically named varietals that have been put into use to produce English still and sparkling wine. Along with the more familiar müller thurgau, dornfelder, and bacchus, and the downright prosaic chardonnay, pinot noir and pinot meunier. I just love the monikers of this cast of characters but what have the English been doing with their wackily named varietals? There are two opinions about English wine. One, the still wines are a work in progress. Two, the sparklings, though, are winners. I had the chance to put the wines to the test at the recent English wine producers Annual Trade Tasting. The show was an opportunity for us to see what those English have been up to and the launch of English Wine Week 2009. English Wine week will be held at the end of May (23rd-31st) and encompasses a variety of activities including tours, tastings, and special events in vineyards around the country. There are also plans for a Welsh Wine Week and a Devon Wine Week alongside the English events. All events can be found on their website,  I found that the whites were not quite ready for prime time. They were competently made and drinkable but nothing really shouted out to me except the one varietal that I discovered and actually liked, the Madeleine Angevine, a white grape that produced some lovely dry and fresh wines, aromas of orange blossoms and white flowers with nice acidity and rounded body but no flabbiness. It reminded...

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