Earlier in 2018, Authentique Epicerie opened in Tufnell Park – the next natural step in the gradual croissantification of the Northern Line. As its name suggests, Authentique Epicerie is partly a grocery store. There is some excellent artisanal French produce here, from wedges of Comté to jars of foie gras. There is also a fabulous wine selection giving established chains like Nicolas a run for their money. Their offering here is firmly rooted in the classics – I spied some excellent Pauillacs at a reasonable mark-up – but perhaps lacking natural wines or anything more outré. It is also a casual dining and drinking destination in its own right. In many ways, the four young French owners have hit the nail on the head with their concept.
After a saunter around the shop, my colleague and I sat at the bar for a bite to eat. You can also drink any of the wines on the shelves for a small corkage (reminding me of one of my favourite wine bars in Paris, 5eme Cru). We enjoyed the smoked haddock brandade with poached egg – a simple and comforting dish – and then the mixed cheese and charcuterie board, washed down with a young but serviceable Cotes du Rhone (Poignée de Raisins 2016). The bread was continually replenished, as is the French way. Bordeaux-style canelés rounded things off nicely as we paid the reasonable bill at the end (roughly around £35 each).
The staff are self-assured, friendly and also seem somewhat unfussed by Brexit (“if the shit hits the fan I can just go to another EU country,” said the French waiter serving us, “it’s you guys I’m worried about”). Well, quite.
It’s rare for me to become so besotted with a place but Authentique Epicerie has it all… just about. My only issue is their lack of coffee which I understand might be rectified soon. With the introduction of regular wine tasting sessions, special guest chef nights and live music evenings, they are clearly ambitious but I have high hopes for Authentique Epicerie. The residents of Tufnell Park are certainly lucky to have this gem on their doorstep.
See further: http://authentique-epicerie.com/
114a-116 Fortess Road
by J A Smith