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Wine List Confidential: Pied à Terre

Douglas Blyde heads to Pied à Terre, the legendary Michelin-starred restaurant that has survived “through fire, the financial crises, and a global pandemic”, and dives into its liquid assets.

“The longest-standing independent Michelin restaurant in the UK,” appraised Square Meal of Fitzrovia’s Pied à Terre. Once an Indian restaurant replete with tandoors, its kitchens were presided over by influential head chefs Richard Neat, Tom Aikens, Shane Osborne, Marcus Eaves, and Andy McFadden. Incumbent, Asimakis Chaniotis has been in the role for seven years, revealing flashes of his Greek heritage in dishes.


David Moore, presented in a leopard emblazoned shirt and hexagonal framed bright blue glasses on our visit, has steered the tall townhouse through fire, the financial crises, and a global pandemic. Improved consistently, it incorporates a smart kitchen by Martin Moore (no relation). Here, David Moore, who dreamt of becoming a professional chef at the age of 12, and went on to become Raymond Blanc’s first English waiter at Le Manoir, conducts popular masterclasses. These include vegan cuisine, which the venue takes so seriously a cookbook is scheduled for autumn, and a raw class which ends on the high note of steak tartare.

Created under the restaurant’s artists programme, a collage in the red-carpeted master dining room features 220 quail carcasses relevant to Chaniotis’ signature dish, and bespoke Villeroy & Bosch side plates, each foregrounding a seasonal fruit. A copper-tiled roof light adorned with flowers filters sunlight. Favoured by Rowan Atkinson, table 10 is the hero vantage.



The wealth of wines, including much in bond, is overseen by Moore, who was introduced on BBC’s The Restaurant programme as having “an eye for detail”, and Krug fan, Ciarán Bagchus. Of Bagchus, Moore says, “Ciaran came to me by God”. Having spent three years studying Philosophy/Theology in pursuit of becoming a Catholic priest, Bagchus adjusted his calling while in Valladolid. There, a chance meeting with the part owners of Vega Sicilia spurred him to believe there might be “something of a career” in wine. It was also in Iberia that he tasted Walter Massa’s Derthona (Sterpi) 2017. He recalls: “I credit Sterpi for being the first wine not only to excite my palate, but to lead me to the place of intrigue about what wine can be.”

Much expanded, the by-the-glass selection ranges from Cadalso’s 2017 old bush vine Garnacha from Madrid at £13 per 125ml, to another Spaniard with greater gravitas, being 1939 Montilla Moriles from Toro Albalá – Don PX Convento Seleccion. Given its age, this is available at a mere £1 per ml. Options between include 2018 Deconstructed Chardonnay CY96 from decomposed Elgin granite, pebbles and quartz managed by Master of Wine, Richard Kershaw (£50), and, from closer to home, Danbury Ridge Chardonnay from London clay (£24). England is embraced in the sparkling realm, too, in Hundred Hills from Oxfordshire, as well as, by the bottle, a mature rendition of 2013 Reserve Brut from Digby (£120). Plentiful grower Champagnes include biodynamic bottles of non-vintage Chardonnay-led Fluence Brut Nature by Franck Pascal (£110) and the Meunier-driven Quinte Essence Extra Brut 2010 (£240), both at around double retail. From Spain, the sumptuous, organic, Mestres Clos Nostre Senyor Gran Reserva Brut Nature Cava 2008 is priced fairly given its scarcity on these shores. Just don’t book in if you are looking for effervescence from Italy – no options manifest.

Tenderly marked up compared to burgeoning market prices, smart Burgundies include Roulot’s Meursault Les Tessons, Clos du Mon Plaisir 2009 (£600), with gentrified Aligotés – this is what budget fine dining looks like in 2024 – and Bourgogne Blancs by Coche-Dury subjected to hopeful bottle age. More hallowed incarnations from the producer, which will appear in an upcoming ticketed dinner, include Pommard Les Vaumuriens 2007 at £800. At the pinnacle of the pyramid is Comte Lafon’s Montrachet Grand Cru 2004 (£6,000) and Domaine de la Romanée Conti Richebourg 1999 (£9,000) both at twice retail. Meanwhile, Château Pétrus 1982 (£9,000) has resided on this list since we can remember; perhaps the team will open it when they regain the second Michelin star removed when Shane Osborn departed in 2011? From elsewhere in Europe, notable bottles include Clos Mogador Priorat 2004 (£350), and Angelo Gaja’s 1997 Sperss from Langhe (£800).

From outside Europe, the 2020 Premium Pinot Noir from luddite, Bass Phillip (Gippsland) costs £500, while plush Americans include, from the winery of the Croydon-born founder of Classic FM, Sir Peter Michael, 2021 Belle Côte Chardonnay from Knights Valley (£340), with Manfred Krankl’s Sine Qua Non, Male Syrah 2013, Ventura County, replete with relevant gender symbol on the label at £800. From neighbouring Canada, 2021 Ava by Le Vieux Pin Winery’s 2021 Rhône Ranger is reaped from the Okanagan Valley (£100).

“Easter eggs” include Vilafonté’s Seriously Old Dirt from Paarl 2020 (£80), Matthieu Cosse’s mature Cahors Le Sid 2002 (£90), Barbera Monleale 2013 from Bagchus’ beloved Walter Massa (£115), and Rosé Inea Korde 2020 from Ribera Del Duero (£135).

Thankfully for bibulous civilians with slimmer finances, there is plentiful interest around £60, including Bernhard Ott’s Grüner Veltliner “Fass” (barrel) 4 Wagram 2021, and the 2014 dry Hárslevlü from Megyer in Hungary’s Tokaj, a country Moore visited on wine business.

The sweet miscellany includes 2013 Orenga de Gaffory, a Muscat Impassitu from Cap Corse’s limestone and clay (£115), a sheer half of 2016 Canadian single vineyard Roussanne Ice Wine from the Rebel Pi Winery project of Apprentice candidate, Jackie Fast (£160), and bearing lashings of old school cool, Château d’Yquem 1985 (£1,100).

Glassware is a mix of robust, angular, corseting Spiegelau which is as effective as placing an understudy with stage fright in a lead role, big balloon Riedel, and Nude Stem Zero.

Bagchus is assisted by Izzy Strutt, who was inspired to join Pied a Terre after watching one of Moore’s TikTok performances, which drew millions of viewers.

If you are on good terms with Moore, ask him to stir you an unbeatable Negroni using 20 circles of his index finger. While this may sound horrifying, the original drink was a humble affair, with the late, great Gary Reagan even casting a best-selling replica of his finger for this purpose.


Today’s lunch was overseen by Asimakis Chaniotis, himself a producer of Kefalonian wines in doliums, while Bagchus, buoyant from “a big win at Cheltenham” paired wines, armed with a rose gold Coravin. Describing the Collard-Picard Prestige champagne “sharpener” as “hopeful for the canapés”, Bagchus poured the “baby Krug” with canapés of signature, tense, awakening, eggs Kayianna served in the shell, comprising tomato and smoothly scrambled egg with piped warm Feta, a bright sugar kelp enhanced cubed salmon gravlax with nori and dill, and a sumptuous chicken liver mousse centred baby éclair painted in pistachio. The latter is best eaten in one to avoid a dry cleaning bill.

The first of the initial courses was arranged on a spiky plate suggesting the case of a horse chestnut. Modestly titled, “Garden of Eden” prettily embraced new potatoes, fennel, beetroot, enoki, carrot, and turnips over a bagna cauda like porcini vinaigrette. Having dined with the South African producer the day he met his Eve, Bagchus selected a gentle, saline, interloper of a coastal Palomino from Adi Badenhorst (2020). Although noting he “doesn’t pay much attention to critics – but it’s important to know who is saying what,” Bagchus quoted Tim Atkin MW in his praise for “arguably the southern hemisphere’s greatest Palomino.”

Next, a “Giouvarlaki” sphere of veal tartare on soft, poached leeks, was topped with royal Oscietra caviar from purveyor of the moment, N25, and a dill frond, then finished with lemon and egg enriched “Avgolemono” from a splurting syphon, which our guest described as “one of the great sauces of the world.” Served blind from an actual Garfield sock, Bagchus poured the smart, steely, oak matured, Domaine Danjou-Banessy 2021 La Truffière Carignan Gris from Côtes Catalanes. “There are only two hectares in the world of this grape”, he said, recalling the time he finished a tasty sample of the wine with supplier, Frederic Grappe alongside advanced Comté.

An alert, pyrazine-voiced high-altitude blend of Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, and Viognier from Mauricio Lorca – Ancestral – in Argentina (2021) ensued, subject to a sojourn in clay eggs. Monumental, yet unoaked, it brought bergamot, nasturtium, and “bronze fennel” notes, said Bagchus, to white and green asparagus, a prawn mousse stuffed morel, and tarragon-scented beurre blanc enriched with particularly firm smoked caviar pearls and crayfish. “If I didn’t have to sacrifice Chardonnay for champagne, my dessert island grape would be Viognier,” said Bagchus, adding, “drop me in the Northern Rhône.” The best match so far.

The first of the mains showed huge skill. Intriguingly rolled to form a rib, its bones cleaned, Dover sole meunière, with supple, crushed potatoes, was served with almost brioche-like focaccia so perfect for fruitful scarpetta with the beurre noisette, pepped with smoked trout roe, citrus, never overly intrusive capers, and parsley. Matched in richness, the aforementioned Belle Côte by Peter Michael, brought positive hints of Werther’s Originals and a complimentary, smooth mouthfeel. Having given it “a flash in a decanter”, Bagchus grandly introduced the “valley wine” from the producer’s oldest holding in the Knight’s Valley, as “the greatest Chardonnay in the world outside France”.

Released with a puff of cherry wood smoke from a glass cloche, “Asimakis’ Signature Dish”, was arranged on an iridescent plate, with a pearlescent handled Laguiole knife. It comprised grilled French quail, including tender leg, smooth “texture of celeriac”, Piedmontese hazelnuts, 24-month mature Parmesan, a 63°C confit olive oil egg yolk, with black winter truffle. Given, says Bagchus, the quality bird bears “a sweetness like chicken” it “needs subtle tannins”. The ideal collaborator? One of just six remaining bottles of the Pommard-like Willamette North Valley 2018 Pinot Noir from the defunct Soter Vineyards project. People stand in front of things. Explaining the presence of this wine, Bagchus mentioned it the allocation resulted from a friendship between sales director of “Wine Treasury”, Rory Benham and Pied a Terre – his first account. Mesmerising, it brought “orange peel and green tea notes” to the sophisticated dish.

An impromptu work in progress took a team of four to bring it to the table. The proposed wine hinted at its nature. Bodega Lanzaga’s La Estrada comes from a “northeast-facing, 0.64-hectare plot planted in the 1940s” said Bagchus. Just 1,972 bottles of the finespun 2019 were produced by Rioja’s “enfant terrible”, Telmo Rodriguez, he said, adding “I love Tempranillo and lamb.” Its tobacco-like notes went into battle with a lamb chop, served pink, with a slightly challenging flap of fat left exposed, and a bewildering amount of dots of sauces, a very good, but very large ratatouille, and, the highlight, a marvellous, Michelin-worthy kebab made of hogget trimming presented on olive leaves.

Comprising truffled brie in a millefeuille of puff pastry with celery, quince jelly, and nasturtium, the composed cheese course lacked moisture despite the lubrication of the notably ripe Hillside No. 3 from Hundred Hills alongside, resulting from three passes of picking during the exigent year of 2019.

Served in a chalice with a hinged lid, crisp Yorkshire rhubarb tartare marinated in elderflower and grenadine served with rose petal sorbet exorcised the memory of the disappointing cheese which felt as if composed by a chef from a lesser venue. The dessert proper was comprised of masterly wild strawberry and Tahitian vanilla soufflé, albeit with a distracting olive oil shortbread biscuit laden with fast-melting vanilla ice cream and jarring basil. The latter complicated the match with Bagchus’ final bottle of Markus Molitor 2010 Mosel Riesling, Zeltinger Sonnenuhr Auslese. “Molitor has created perhaps more 100-point wines than Keller,” noted Bagchus, who also shared a pour of Josmeyer 1995 Grand Cru Hengst L’Hexception Pinot Gris. With frankincense and myrrh-like aromas, which must be familiar to Bagchus, this had evolved beyond fruit into the realm of the almost ecclesiastical.

Last word

Although his tenure at Pied a Terre comes to a conclusion at the end of May, Chaniotis had produced one of our most memorable meals today. The experience was immensely enhanced by the expertise, and relaxed manner of clear asset, Ciarán Bagchus, who delved into both of the building’s cellars for the liquid collaborators, while making notes of his reflections of the wines and how they were enjoyed in his prized journal, kept at the restaurant.

Best for

  • Breadth of wines by the glass
  • Classics with age
  • Diners with dietaries
  • “The Print Room” private dining room, and Martin Moore kitchen

Value: 95, Size: 96, Range: 97.5, Originality: 97, Experience: 98.5; Total: 96.8

Pied à Terre – 34 Charlotte Street, London, W1T 2NH; 020 7636 1178;;

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