Fusing the pop-up restaurant concept with its regular wine dinners, The Providores – the London restaurant co-owned by New Zealand executive chef Peter Gordon – relocated for one night from its Marylebone home to the Village Underground in Shoreditch for a feast of Pacific Rim fusion food matched with top Kiwi wines.
A four-course dinner, 15 wines and 160 people in a derelict former railway coal store. Ok, it wasn’t the feeding of the 5,000, but an ambitious project nonetheless. ’We only have three power points and a sink over here,’ said The Providores’ Peter Gordon. ‘It’s a challenge!’
Among the guests were the former captain of the New Zealand All Black Rugby Union team, Sean Fitzpatrick, director of New Zealand Winegrowers David Cox, The Times wine critic Tim Atkin MW and representatives of the 15 wines on show, including cinematographer-turned-winemaker Michael Seresin of Seresin Estate in Marlborough.
The Morton Estate and Pelorus non-vintage Bruts were flowing at the pre-dinner reception, paired with head chef Cristian Hossack’s creations of chorizo dauphin potato wedges, beetroot arancini, baba ghanoush crostinis and the star – Kaipara oysters with Chardonnay foam and wasabi caviar.
There was an understandable delay in trying to seat 160 guests along three 15m-long tables and, subsequently, much jostling for position. Seated shoulder-to-shoulder, school dinner like, there was as much room as an economy airline seat, but the closeness encouraged conversation, with sommeliers mixing with lawyers, City bankers chatting with suburban wine lovers and the wine representatives moving along the rows to chat about their bottles.
Providores co-owner and general manager Michael McGrath said this first event showcased some of the team’s favourite wines, which included Pelorus, Momo, Rippon Vineyard, Waitaki Braids, Forrest, Man O’War, Staete Landt and Craggy Range, but that future pop-ups could be focused on a particular region or specific food pairings.
Wines were laid out in flights of three for each course, and after a random straw poll, the star pairing for each were:
The smoky, earthy, musky mushroom and beetroot notes of the Takatu Pinot Gris 2007 was a complex and exciting match for the smoked salmon with goats curd, roast baby beets, dashi jellies, kikones and pomegranate – a dish Gordon described as ‘hilarious’; diners hailed it sublime.
Seresin’s intense, rich and creamy wild yeast-fermented Reserve Chardonnay 2007 was a perfect complement for the poached ham hock and water chestnuts with jicama, green mango, carrot, walnuts and pickled mustard seeds.
A Syrah and Pinot were good partners for the roast New Zealand venison loin with cumin and aubergine puree, swiss chard, lentils, root veg and horseradish sauce, but not as fine as Trinity Hill’s Montepulciano 2009 with it’s pure, ripe, sweet red cherry fruit and vanilla cream notes.
Finally, it was the slight spritz, refreshing acidity, peach and lime-blossom notes of Pegasus Bay’s Aria Riesling that most suited the dessert of almond, pistachio and apricot tart.
The concept was the brainchild of The Providores’ bar manager Mel Ellis, who already hosts New Zealand winemaker dinners at the restaurant every six weeks – previous names have included Vin Alto, Man O’War and Cloudy Bay. ‘Having a pop-up in such a big space like this means we can invite more guests as well as feature more wines from more producers.’
And there’s more innovation to come from The Providores team: Gordon and McGrath will join Gourmet Burger Kitchen co-founders Adam Wills and Brandon Allen to open Kopapa, a wine and tapas bar at Seven Dials in London’s Covent Garden this December.
Written by Tina Gellie