A ‘natural’ wine bar with perfectly matched small-plates menu.
Some time ago, the cider makers of France sat down to figure out a better way of marketing their boozy apple juice. ‘I know,’ piped up one. ‘We can call it “natural wine” and sell it abroad!’
This story about the origins of the drink don’t bear close scrutiny, but it would explain why so many ‘natural wines’ and ‘orange wines’ sold in the UK could pass for dry ciders in blind tastings. The term ‘vin naturel’ was revived in France in the 1980s to describe wines that use natural fermentation with little intervention in the winemaking process, often with unpredictable results. But there are also enthusiasts who love the wines’ distinctively different character.
Fortunately, such wines – like cider – go well with steamed mussels or clams. And Margaux Aubry, the Lyon-born proprietor of Naughty Piglets in Brixton (pictured), is well aware of this. Her wine list is predominantly natural, with the remainder organic.
The brief blackboard menu is prepared in the basement kitchen by Aubry’s husband, Joe Sharratt (pictured). Beside those plump steamed mussels in bonito butter are other classic small plates such as fatty duck rillettes, or a simple salad of black tomatoes topped with shavings of salted ricotta. Less expected is a remarkably good slab of Korean-style pork belly, steamed then grilled and served with a gochujang (chilli-miso) dip and crisp lettuce leaves. A good-sized portion costs a mere £9.
Desserts are great too: scoops of chocolate mousse are served with crisp almond tuiles, dulce de leche and a crumble infused with white chocolate.
The back room is more secluded, the front room convivial. Many passers-by book a table on the spot. Maybe you’ll be next to raise your glass of vin naturel to this little hotspot of Anglo-French cultural exchange.
Credit: Time Out
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