Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Champagne + Fromage

Serving two of France's greatest exports (aside from Tintin and Breton tops), Champagne + Fromage is un peitit bijou!

So, the other night I took my newly acquired husband to Champagne + Fromage for more than drinks but less than dinner... Located a stones throw from Covent Garden, in the heart of theatre land, this tiny French bistro is the perfect place for a pre-theatre dinner or a quick post-show glass of fizz. We met in  Covent Garden (always nice to start the evening with a trip to Zara!) and then wove our way through the piazza, dodging street entertainers before arriving at Champagne + Fromage. Don't be put off by the busy road, just head straight inside. It's a charmingly rustic shop cum bistro where you'll be greeted with a wonderfully haphazard interior full of mismatched furniture, displays of champagne, cheese and charcuterie and an overriding feeling of Gallic authenticity.

We arrived half an hour early but this wasn't a problem for our charming (and seriously well informed) French waitress. Having talked us through the food and drink on offer (in such a strong French accent we couldn't totally understand everything, but obviously pretended we did!) our waitress served us a cheese board, followed by a charcuterie board and finally a tartine of our choice, all paired with a delicious champagne of course.

These boards of food are perfect for a date as they necessitate a very sociable way of eating. Not good if you are greedy/unaccustomed to sharing! Having to share my Savoyarde tartine was probably the first serious test of our marriage. The portions of the charcuterie in particular are very generous so perhaps order one board at a time and see if you need more? That's the beauty of this place, you can have as much or as little as you want and it is all incredibly relaxed. 

Make sure you ask about what you're eating and drinking as the staff are very friendly and unbelievably well informed. You'll discover that the grower champagnes come from small vineyards, some of no more than 5 hectares, and that the finished product is a real labour of love all the way from the grape to the bottle. The delicious cheeses are of the same quality, all sourced from tiny suppliers across the channel.

To sum up… we had a brilliant evening at Champagne + Fromage. The clientele were mixed which added to the atmosphere and definitely gave us something to talk about!  In one corner we saw a couple indulging in a passionate embrace - so very French - while at another table two older couples were obviously enjoying a pre-theatre glass of fizz before heading off to catch a show. It's also worth remembering that you get tipsy pretty quickly on champagne (or at least I do!) which makes it great for an early days date as the conversation should start flowing fairly swiftly…

Miss Mary's top tip: Dress warmly as the place has to be kept cold for the cheese. No joke, I had to wrap my scarf around me legs - not a great look for a first date!

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