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Authentic flavours and Gallic charm in a food and drink hotspot

The charming young owners of ever-so French Authentique Epicerie and Bar are doing an incredible job

19 July, 2018 — By Tom Moggach

Authentique in ‘cosmopolitan’ and ‘open-minded’ Tufnell Park

THE windows were rattling in Fortess Road during the World Cup final. Ecstatic crowds of French supporters roared on their players at Authentique, a buzzing new wine bar near Tufnell Park tube. It’s been a thrilling, hot summer for the young owners. All four are French and fresh out of college. Authentique Epicerie and Bar is their first business.

Open just a few months, the venture is already a smash hit with the locals. The concept is lofty and ever-so French: “A three-in-one venue dedicated to Francophone gastronomy.”

In practice, this means the double-sized venue is half bar and half deli and wine shop, selling artisanal wares from France, Switzerland, Belgium, Morocco, Algeria and beyond.

If you sit down, you can order cheese and charcuterie, with hot dishes planned for this September with the arrival of a new chef.

There’s an educational programme, too, with tastings and masterclasses.

Each month is dedicated to the wines of a region – currently Provence and Corsica – with over 15 wines served by the glass.

The location in NW5 seems a smart move. “The market here is amazing,” says co-owner Alex. “People from around the world – very cosmopolitan and very open-minded.”

Fortess Road is now a hotspot for food and drink, with treats such as Ruby Violet (ice cream), Ceremony (vegetarian restaurant), The Spence Bakery, Jonathon Norris (fish) and Meat NW5.

The space at Authentique is still evolving. Recent innovations include a new garden terrace with a mural from local street artist collective ATG (Ahead Of The Game).

Inside, the bar has a backdrop of pale blue tiles and is dominated by a vintage red meat slicer with flywheel handle. On the right, there’s a wall of wine, deli goods and a glowing fridge. On the left, a swathe of wooden tables to sit down and enjoy the treasures on offer.

The quality of food and drink is impeccable. A 125ml glass of wine will cost around £6-16. (Note the smaller measurement – most pubs and restaurants serve 175ml). Boards of cheese and charcuterie, lovingly sliced to order, are priced £10-18.

On our last visit, we shared razor-thin slivers of smoked duck breast, hazelnut saucisson and thicker chunks of liver sausage.

There are also pâtés and sundried tomatoes, all served with top-notch butter and chunks of proper baguette.

Best by far are the canelés, a traditional French pastry from Bordeaux. These palm-sized beauties are insanely good, with a crust of dark caramel, whiff of rum and vanilla and moist centre.

The cakes are available in three flavours – plain or topped with salted caramel or raspberries – and cost £2.80 to take away or £3.50 at table.

I don’t love the name, but the team behind Authentique are doing an incredible job – charming their customers and building a stylish business with huge potential.

I wonder how their three-in-one model will evolve. I bet the posh jams and spices will make way for more tables.

Authentique Epicerie and Bar
114-116 Fortess Road, NW5
020 3609 6602
www.authentique-epicerie.com

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