With established eateries such as The Wolsely and The Dealunay already in their portfolio, the announcement of Corbin & King’s latest venture, Soutine, was expectedly met with plenty of fanfare. Nestled at the southernmost of end of St John’s Wood High Street (NW8 for those of you not in north London), it is also conveniently just a twenty minute walk from my own front door, right on the other side of Primrose Hill. Ticking all of the boxes in being both dog friendly and a Parisian bistro, we headed there for a Monday lunch with Pepi in tow.
Unsurprisingly, with all that fanfare comes the crowds. St John’s Wood is something of a spiritual home for the weekday brunches and the lunches and Soutine seems to have already drummed up a solid fan base. With a reservation on a Monday at 1.30pm we certainly hadn’t anticipated the restaurant being so busy; luckily the beautifully-finished traditional interior has a layout that still feels spacious even when at capacity.
Speaking of interiors, Soutine certainly has nailed that Parisian bistro feel. The place feels cosy, yet natural light still pours in from the glass fronted exterior. Waiters are dressed smartly and the service is friendly and intimate; something that NW8 restaurant scene doesn’t always manage to get right. The staff are attentive and the food itself is served in good timing; helped by the beautiful wood carved bar that covers all of the drinks and cocktail orders. Think casual dining with all of the trimmings that you get in a more formal restaurant. Any potential teething problems, at least on our visit, weren’t apparent at all.
While the décor and the service tick all of the boxes, diners do obviously come for the food too. This is Soutine’s real trump card, delivering some mouth-watering dishes that don’t try anything too hard, but instead opt for the best ingredients served in a traditional Parisian manner. Katie’s starter of the Isle of Skye Queen Scallops were served on ice; each mouthful served avec shell in a tiny bath of lemon and herb butter. Feeling slightly adventurous and wanting that traditional bistro experience, I went for the Steak Tartare; perfectly chopped, perfectly seasoned and with the most perfect little raw egg served on top.
Light starters were, in hindsight, the right choice; mains of Confit de Canard and a Filet de Bouef were extremely rich and very filling. Both meats were cooked to perfection, and the green peppercorn crust on my steak really gave it a beautifully crispy finish. For sides, the Buttery Mash and Wilted Spinach added plenty of substance and left us both very satisfied. Of course, there is always room for dessert and this is where the chefs at Soutine certainly knocked the ball out of the park. Katie’s mini Black Forest Gateaux was an absolute treat, but my Coupe Lucian really stole the show. With three nutty-flavoured ice creams it was absolutely divine; pistachio has always been one of my favourites and I’m not sure I’ll ever taste something as good as that scoop ever again. The whipped cream and butterscotch sauce probably weren’t even necessary accompaniments, but it’s always good to feel like a very refined twelve year-old now and again.
If it is drinks you are after then Soutine also hits the mark with their offering; as you would expect there are plenty of provincial wines to try and the menu is fairly extensive. You won’t spent hours perusing through your options, but there were certainly enough choices to whet the taste buds. Personally I can vouch for the La Muse de Cabestany 2017 Pinot Noir which was light and had an excellent cherry finish. The cocktail list is similarly impressive; some of the classics done right alongside a few nods to history. Serving sizes are generous, and my 1789 cocktail certainly had enough kick to it to instantly put a smile on my face; Woodford Reserve Bourbon, Lillet and White Wine served over ice. Even if there isn’t a table available, there are plenty of stools around the bar for a drink.
If you can book yourself a table, the I highly recommend a venture north to Soutine. St John’s Wood has always lacked a cosy, dog-friendly restaurant that serves incredible food and I genuinely believe that Soutine could put this postcode back on the map. Good luck with nabbing a table before the locals do, though.