My drinking habits have certainly changed over the years. Back when I was a bright, young thing recently let (legally) loose on the town, my drink of choice was vodka. That blissfully tasteless spirit was well masked by lemonade with a squeeze of lime, or red bull for the nights we were dancing well into the wee hours of the morning. Wine was strictly cheap, white and to be guzzled at BYOs and beer was always a last resort. By the start of my working woman days, I had graduated to ciders in the afternoon, cocktails in the evening, however the wine guzzling at BYOs was still very much a thing.
Now that I’m a fully fledged adult, quit your sniggering, my main alcoholic squeeze is wine. Though I’m not adult enough to ditch the cheap and white completely, I have expanded the range considerably and a glass of wine with my meal is now the norm. And just when I thought my drinking evolution was complete, I recently discovered a fondness for dark beers such as stouts and porters. My 19 year old self did not see this coming. But rest assured, younger me, they haven’t knocked wine off the top spot in my affections, though that love was tested a few times at The Selkirk’s Beer v Wine Supper Club.
The concept is simple: the kitchen creates a four course menu, the experts from Les Caves de Pyrene and Meantime Brewery come up with wine and beer to match, then we dinner guests have the arduous task of tasting everything and deciding which, the wine or beer, works better! Yes, you read correctly- there was one glass of wine and beer with every course…
We started with broad beans and lardo on toast, the simplicity of which was rather bold and bravely set the tone for the rest of the meal. The Selkirk’s food is rustic, seasonal and completely focused on the natural flavours of each ingredient; when you only put three on the plate you make sure they’re worth eating. I thought the pretty pink Ameztoi Txakoli Rosado 2014 from the Basque country was an adequate match, but I was in the minority as the hoppy Meantime Pilsner won over the room.
Next was the fish course of cod, asparagus and ‘njuda paired with a glass of the Senechaliere Boheme Melon Bourgogne (2013) and the maltier Meantime Wheat. The spicy mouthfeel (yes, that’s a real term, google it) of this wine complemented the smokey heat of the ‘njuda, a spicy, spreadable sausage well enough to be named the winner of this round. My piece of fish was cooked perfectly, lightly flaking away upon touch while still robust enough to not be overpowered by the ‘njuda.
The meat course was the one we were most looking forward to- steak and kidney tart, with bavette and turnips… meat, offal and pastry is always going to be a winning combination and this version did not disappoint. Tender chunks of steak, coupled with the distinct taste of kidneys, encased in buttery, flakey pastry served with slices of bavette; offal loving carnivores rejoice, this dish was heavenly. I thought the Ollieux Romanis Petit Fantet Hippolyte (2013), a rich peppery blend of old Carignan, Grenache and Syrah, would surely reign triumphant, until I sipped the utterly delicious Meantime London Porter. It seems the majority agreed that steak and meat pies are best washed down with a beer.
This supper ended with an elderflower yoghurt panna cotta with gooseberries; sharp, tart and creamy, this is not something I would normally pick from the dessert menu but it was a pleasant surprise. The Meantime Raspberry Wheat beer put up a valiant fight but it really was no match for the devilishly sweet Ca D`Gal Moscato d`Asti Lumine (2014) which balanced out the sourness of the gooseberries perfectly for me.
So by the end of the night, the score was two all but we unanimously agreed that the food itself trumped both the beer and wine. The Selkirk was recently relaunched with a new team taking charge- Kerry is a wonderfully attentive publican, not only taking care to maintain the pub’s Victorian-era features, but also taking great care of her customers. In the kitchen Head Chef Daniel brings a wealth of experience from his days at River Cottage in Devon and Tulse Hill Hotel, resulting in a menu of hearty and exciting dishes.
I’m so pleased to call The Selkirk my local, not only for the excellent food and wine but also because after a night of all this feasting I was just a little bit tipsy and grateful for the short stroll back home… oh this is giving me flashbacks to my younger days!
Les Caves de Pyrene is an independent wine importer and wholesaler with a focus on quality and a passion for building the profile of small growers, and celebrating regional diversity.
Meantime Brewery Company is a modern craft brewery which started life in a Greenwich flat in 1999 and is now an award-winning brewery producing some of the best craft beers in the country.
Check out The Selkirk website and twitter for details of future Supper Clubs; though we were guests this time round, we will be back again, and as always, all opinions are my own.