Drinking Italian in London: Wormwood Restaurant

When I arrived at Wormwood, a chic,new Notting Hill restaurant, I didn’t expect to find Cascina degli Ulivi Sempliciamente Vino on the wine list. But there it was: Stefano Belotti’s biodynamic Vino di Tavola, closed with a bottle cap instead of a cork. It is Cascina degli Ulivi’s entry level red but introduces the same rich layers of aromas and flavors that characterize Belotti’s Nibiô Dolcetto and Mounbè Barbera. Robust and earthy with pleasing freshness, it was the perfect pairing for a cool, fall night and our eclectic, tapas style dinner. (Cascina degli Ulivi is located in the hills of Monferrato, Piemonte.)
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French sommelier and restaurant manager, Christophe Cavaille, has put together an exceptional list of international organic and biodynamic with quite a few Italians including favorites of mine such as: Elisabetta Foradori’s Fontanasanta Manzoni Bianco, Elisabetta Fagiuoli’s Montenidoli Vernaccia Tradizionale, and Salvo Foti’s I Vignieri Vinupetra Rosso. He explained that he generally chooses only a red or a white from a given winery, leaving space for variety on a relatively short list.

Wormwood’s cuisine is a vibrant mix of Algerian, French, Spanish and Modern Mediterranean with plates my friends and I shared like La St. Jacques (seared scallops, salt baked celeriac, orange blossom purée, chilli & cumin salsa), L’Aubergine (smoked aubergine mousse, confit baby aubergine, chilli and coriander oil), and Pulled Pork (with baby spinach, spinach velouté, sunflower seeds and black olive crumbs). (See menu on website.)

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Wormwood’s decor is distinctly North African/Mediterranean with a fresh, outdoor terrace feel even on a dark, autumn night. The bright blue and white floor tiles in the back room as well as the metallic ones pictured here on the ceiling were all hand made for the space.
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Chef/Owner, Rabah Ourrad, began his career in Algeria as a Rap singer, then moved to Paris to study French literature and cooking. He worked first in two restaurants in Barcelona, then at Sketch, Momo and The Ledbury in London before opening Wormwood this year with his brother/co-owner, Akli. At the end of the meal, he and his wife, Anabel, who is from Mexico, came to chat with us.
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The intriguing evening at Wormwood was a cozy but elegant adventure. There was attention to detail characteristic of top level dining without overstuffed formality.

The last surprise was this black box…
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…filled with an array of cookies and sweets.
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*Interior photos and outdoor shot of the sign courtesy of Wormwood

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