Sardinian Reds in Essex

So, when I was in the office earlier this week, a comment was made to me about the fact that I seem to be talking more about cycling than either wine or sailing. It seems only appropriate, therefore, that I redress this apparent imbalance. Next week sees the start of the sailing season in Trearddur Bay, so it looks like wine is on the agenda this evening!

I have spent a very relaxed weekend in Essex, celebrating Vanessa’s (my fiancée’s) birthday. We went to a proper Essex boozer last night called The Traveller’s Friend in Woodford Green. Today, after shaking off a bit of a sore head, we went out for lunch to a rather nice restaurant in Theydon Bois called Il Bacio.

As a northerner, when I first moved to London, I didn’t realise that places like Theydon Bois existed. It’s a village, with a proper village green, an old-school butcher, a great sense of community, ready access to Epping Forest, loads of local personalities and (very conveniently) a Central Line tube station, that is 37 minutes from Bank!

Il Bacio is an authentic Italian restaurant that is owned by Luigi, a charismatic and effervescent Sardinian. Luigi is a great host who has a passion for Italian food and wine, and who always makes you feel welcome. Luigi has a great team who work at the restaurant who prepare and serve great food. Today, lunch started at 2.30pm and concluded at around 7.30pm – not a bad effort really.

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The standard menu is pretty much as you would expect from an Italian restaurant – pasta, pizza and the like. However, the special dishes that are offered keep the menu fresh and interesting. I went for a smoked salmon starter and fillet steak main course for lunch today. Satiating indeed!

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The wine list is not bad either. Luigi has a nice selection of wines, many of which, as you would expect, come from Italy. As with the food, Luigi also has a few special wines:

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I am particularly fond of the Corrasi, which is a robust wine but with a relatively hefty price tag. However, there is also a rather nice Sangiovese that Luigi sells for c.£17 per bottle which is highly quaffable – I can vouch for that! Today, we went for a Cannonau Di Sardegna Riserva 2010 for around £30 that absolutely hit the mark.

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So, the next time you are in London and fancy a decent meal out, think outside of the box. It’s very easy to default to Goodman on Maddox Street, Hawksmoor at Seven Dials or some other fancy West End restaurant. However, if you are prepared to spend an extra 15 minutes getting there, the trip on the Central Line to Theydon Bois and Luigi’s is worth the effort. I can highly recommend it – Vanessa did so to me and I am grateful to her for that.

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