Champagne + Fromage is a bistro and shop serving… you guessed it, writes Holly O’Mahony…
The three-branch chain first opened in Covent Garden, offering a classy pit-stop for those browsing the boutique-lined streets. The concept proved a success and the company opened a second outlet in Brixton two years later, in 2013. There, however, the offering ruffled feathers and sparked protests with some local residents calling for ‘Yuppies Out’. But this second branch also found custom – if only with said ‘yuppies’ – and in 2015, Champagne + Fromage opened its Greenwich branch. It’s here that, as a final hurrah before succumbing to the pressures to partake in Dry January, a friend and I decided to toast the end of 2018 with champagne and a side of cheese.
Champagne + Fromage is actually a partnership between two companies serving artisanal French produce: French Bubbles, which sells award-winning champagne grown on family-owned vineyards, and Une Normande à Londres, a French family-owned company bringing their cheeses, cured meats and preserves across the English Channel to London.
We arrived on the penultimate evening of the year and were guided to our table – a window spot hugged either side by sofa seating – by Pierre, the passionate restaurant manager who took us through the menu with such enthusiasm we secretly wanted him to join us for a glass to tell us more. Pierre suggested we order the gastroboard (three cheeses, three meats, cornichons and tapenade) and a trio of champagne flights to make the most of the menu, pointing us in the direction of the right champagnes to accompany the cheeses and charcuterie coming our way.
First, we sampled a glass of Michel Furdyna, the house champagne which is mainly comprised of Pinot Noir. It was clear, sharp and fruity – the apple and pear notes coming through. Our garlic and herb baked camembert arrived soon after and as we dragged hunks of French baguette through its oozing centre, we paused to sip glass number two – a creamy bottle called Colin, which exquisitely accompanied the camembert and other cheeses (a creamy blue, strong brie and rich goat’s cheese).
The trio of meats proved a treat too. A mushroom salami was deep and aromatic in flavour while a florette-shaped huddle of ham slices were so deliciously smoked I found myself transported to the French countryside. The third cut, a fattier, heavily spiced salami, tasted like happy, sunny holidays. We tipped our hats again to Pierre for recommending the rosé champagne – made up of 92 per cent chardonnay and 8 per cent Pinot Noir – which brought out the flavours of the meats even more.
The tapenade – a creamy and bland mix of what was possibly artichoke and capers – was forgettable. While the glacé cherries added more to the appearance of our board than the flavour.
We could have stopped there but still deep in conversation, we decided to order one more glass to sip while finishing off our tales of the year just gone. Pierre recommended the Le Gallais, a ‘no sugar’ champagne, easier on the head the morning after. We enjoyed this golden glass with a plate of assorted macaroons – fresh and full of flavour – from which the pistachio piece won our vote.
By 7:30pm, we were the only diners left in the restaurant and I wondered if things weren’t going so well at this third branch of Champagne + Fromage. But, it was a Sunday – not a typical night for drinking bubbles. All the same, the restaurant doesn’t quite carry off the atmosphere of other joints with a similar offering, such as WC in Clapham with its mood lighting and strong whiffs of charcuterie as soon as you enter its underground doors. That said, Champagne + Fromage does what it says on the tin, while offering plenty of champagnes, cheeses and meats to take home, too, should you like what you try.
Champagne & Fromage
13 Nelson Road
Phone: 0208 858 8047