Taking Champagne to Brixton.
Perhaps the most happening food-centric market in London at the moment is at Brixton. Londoners love edgy, uncommercialised places where they might just have found something special before their friends. And if Borough Market is so last year now then Covent Garden is just another tourist trap. Head South to Brixton and you’ll find the ‘real London’.
OK, I’m cynical and I have eclectic tastes. I’ll as happily spend an afternoon at Covent Garden or go shopping in Shoreditch. And, if I’m feeling brave I’ll head off to Brixton; South of the River.
Of course I’ve already been to Champagne and Fromage in Covent Garden – and actually been back in a few times because it’s a great place for a quick glass of fizz and some light food before the theatre, opera or ballet. Now there’s a second branch in Brixton and I have to admit I did wonder how it would work in an area that Estate Agents
I shouldn’t have been concerned. Anything with champagne tends to work very well for me.
The idea behind Champagne and Fromage in Brixton is much the same as the Covent Garden branch. There’s a little more emphasis on food, the option to drink red wine (either Chateau Grimard or domaine Casulet Organic wine and a collection of Champagne cocktails. That apart, there’s the same extensive range of grower champagnes – some by the bottle but with a reasonable range by the glass.
We were of course tempted by the cocktails.
And then by the Champagne. There’s a selection of 25 different grower champagnes on offer at Champagne and Fromage – and you are unlikely to recognise any of them unless you are something of an expert. Unlike the big champagne houses, grower champagnes are are produced by the estate that owns the vineyards where the grapes are grown. Large champagne houses may use grapes sourced from a variety of vineyards, while grower champagnes may have quite distinctive terroir characteristics. It’s worth asking advice from the staff at Champagne and Fromage
As for food, well, we started with tartines – and in my case I just had to pick the Bourgogne (topped with ten snails in butter garlic and parsley. I’d anticipated a kind of snail mushroom on toast mixture – what I actually got was quite different. Would I order it again? definitely – the snails were not in the least bit rubbery and the parsley garlic butter delicious.
Meanwhile, Sarah chose a rather more sensible and utterly delicious (both looking and tasting – I had a small piece to try) fig on melted Fourme d’Ambert blue cheese
We agreed to share the fondue as our main course.
The least successful dish we ate that evening, everything arrived neatly laid out – a platter of cold meats and bread and a small ceramic fondue pot full of melted cheese. The catch – in the rather draughty indoor market space of Brixton Village, what started as suitably runny cheese for dipping quickly solidified into a tasty but rather rubbery mass.The tea-light underneath wasn’t hot enough to keep the cheese liquid as it was in the picture above. The friendly staff explained it was a new dish which they were still working on – I hope there’s a solution because it’s very tasty and works well when it first arrives at the table.
Generous portions of cured meats, potatoes and pickles were excellent though.
Moving on to dessert – I might just have picked the Fondant au Chocolat which comes with Blue des Basques (blue cheese) if I’d checked the menu in advance and ordered early, but given the 15 minute preparation time we chose Champagne Sorbet and Macarons instead.
I have a bit of a macaron fetish and these were lovely
While the champagne sorbet looked pretty and disappeared quickly enough to suggest it was excellent.
So, while the food was a little mixed, the atmosphere was great and by the time we left at around 8pm the bar area was packed. The subtle changes to the Covent Garden shop and bar suit the Brixton setting and I hope Champagne and Fromage succeeds.