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Thursday, 25 November 2010

Baranis, Chancery Lane

For a taste of Provence, try Baranis, a new wine bar below sister restaurant, Cigalon. A chic brick-lined cellar with jolly retro seating, it punts pastis, the love it/ loathe it aniseed spirit which, taken with water or in syrupy alco-squash concoctions, Mauresque and Perroquet, lubricates creaky French joints: that’s joints as in louche old bars du port and as in replacement, on which lizard-skin locals’ mobility invariably hinges. Warning! Never drink pastis neat (le throat stripper) unless matched shot for shot by absinthe - and only then if you are a syphilitic dipso Impressionist painter. Other rare swallows include Gentiane Champagne Cocktail (£9) and Thyme Daiquiri with its whiff of la garrigue, the Med’s wild herby hinterland. Regional wines by the glass, carafe or bottle include rare Corsicans including, to the astonishment of mon ami from Sartène, the island’s rough-house capital, local red, Saparale. At £39 a bottle, his commercial antenna is a-twitch, having spotted an opportunity. Bar food includes generally well-executed regional raves: pan bagna, (basically, salade niçoise in a bun); chunky, basil-laced, soupe au pistou -under-seasoned and served tepid; onion and anchoy pizz-ette, pissaladière; generous charcuterie plates and a rich Corsican sausage/ black puddingy hybrid. I'm a sucker for a kitsch pop soundtrack that includes the likes of Sylvie Vartan covering Sheena Easton's Morning Train and Dick Rivers massacring Roy Orbison, while the cellar's pièce de résitance is Britain’s only indoor boules piste. Here, Daily Mayle readers can perfect their pétanque throws ahead of a rheumatic-free retirement in Ramatuelle.  

115 Chancery Lane 7242 8373 http://www.baranis.co.uk/