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Champagne and Fromage – Covent Garden:
Would I like to review Champagne and Fromage? asked the very chic editor at MyChicCity…well, you know, whether you think you are chic or not, the idea of a champagne bar where you can taste a range of limited production grower champagnes along with some rather fine French charcuterie and cheeses seems pretty good. I was hardly going to turn that offer down.
The concept of Champagne and Fromage, a new champagne bar in Covent Garden is to introduce the British to the idea that there’s more to champagne than the big brands we all know. The Champagne district itself in France is home to more than 300 wineries each producing its own range of champagne. These independent producers develop champagnes that have unique characteristics and often offer better value than the large Champagne houses. Some use organic farming or minimal intervention production techniques and many have been family owned for hundreds of years. And, very few are known outside of France. French Bubbles aims to change all that with Champagne and Fromage.
Alongside the range of champagnes, available by the bottle, the glass or as a retail product to take home, Champagne and Fromage has a selection of artisanal cheeses and French charcuterie together with a few hot dishes and some delightful tartines to enjoy. The venue itself is small but beautifully and uniquely decorated. Many of the fittings have been salvaged from closing restaurants and restored or refurbished to give a shabby chic interior that has the feeling of having just popped up on Wellington Street from a French village.
Upstairs, there’s a cheese and charcuterie counter where you can buy and take away some of the fine produce and a comprehensive display of the champagnes on offer with tasting notes for each together with tables and chairs so that you can enjoy your food and champagne at leisure.
Downstairs, there’s a tasting room that will accommodate around 12 people for tasting events, supper clubs or private events.
We started our tasting with a rose and white champagne to pair with the plates of cheese and charcuterie we had ordered. Our rose was Champagne Furdyna Brut Rose, 100% pinot noir and produced by the saignee method, to give a dry, sophisticated drink that paired very well with the charcuterie. The white, a more classic, Champange Colin Cuvee Alliance was easy to drink and what I’d describe as a classic apperitif.
We went on to taste a whole range of champagnes, of which my favourite was the Lacroix Brut Reserve nv, which retails at French Bubbles for £30 and which is a mix of 50% pinot noir, 30% pinot meunier and 20% chardonnay. Of course, our host saved the the finest of the champagnes for last, the vintage Lacroix 2005. But, even that retails at just £46 a bottle, a fraction of the price you will pay for a branded vintage champagne.
Alongside our champagnes, we enjoyed the cheeses – My favourites were a Compte from Savoie and an unusual soft sheeps cheese coated in savory called Alta Nepita and a large plate of charcuterie. We also tried two of the Tartines – the slightly spicey Montbéliarde sausage and Morbier cheese with a shallot confit and a softer ‘champagne’ – sautéed pear with melted Langres cheese
My companions somehow had space for desserts – a rather gorgeous looking strawberry and mint soup and a chocolate tart – but I’m afraid I did nothing more than taste a mouthful of the melting tart.
Champagne and Fromage is open for champagne and food from 11am to 11pm Tuesdays to Saturdays and 11am to 8pm. Champagne is available to order by the bottle or by the glass from £9 per glass and £50 per bottle. A sharing plate of cheese or meat is £8 and the hot dishes are around the same price. Soft drinks and water are also on offer if you can resist the bubbles! You can also buy or order champagne at retail prices for next day delivery and both cheese and charcuterie can be bought over the counter. It’s definitely worth a visit for lunch or a light supper.
Champagne and Fromage
22 Wellington Street