Address: 15 First Avenue, Brixton Village
Yesterday your plucky researchers from EatinBrixton ran the gauntlet of the demonstration against Champagne and Fromage to be its very first customers. The demonstrators were asking for Yuppie’s to leave Brixton but we felt quite justified in moving on as we failed at the first letter – Y and we definitely think we are not now upwardly-mobile but stuck in a groove. The self-styled anarchist group were protesting about the opening as a “signifier” of the changes taking place in Brixton. But as long-term Brixton residents we can see that even without the new eating places, there are actually more shops open and thriving in Granville Arcade than in the not so distant past, when it was half-empty and moribund. Some of the shopkeepers are happy with the changes, including the guy who runs the Faiz foodstore. He told us that his trade was up, even though he gave up the two units opposite his main foodstore, where Champagne and Fromage has moved in.
So what is Champagne and Fromage like? It was difficult to make a definitive judgement as they really were not quite open. The food processor was still being unpacked and the offering of food was limited. But the double shop front is a pleasant place to sit – small table and metal chairs in a French country kitchen (well it would be if any kitchens was as well stocked with champagne). They understand the weather conditions and have heaters and plans for blankets for the outside space. This is important as champagne is not exactly a warming drink … well not until you have had enough glasses.
The final menu will consist of charcuterie, salads, tartines (toast and cheese) and some cooked cheeses (Camembert and winter cheese with champagne inside). But on this occasion the list was short – the saucisson board – sausages in many flavours. We chose the wild boar but there are 23 choose from including Bull, Blueberry, Duck and Fig – although it may be only the bravest who will go for Donkey. The wild boar sausage was scrumptious (sorry yuppie-speak breaking through).
As you might expect there many champagnes to choose from, five of which are available by the glass. On our followers behalf we started with the cheapest and worked our way up. The staff were knowledgeable and we were suggestible, so away with “biscuit” taste and in with smoothness and the slightly citrus notes of the more expensive rose champagne. They also sell non-alcoholic drinks and you can buy Guinness but only if it is a component of black velvet – a champagne cocktail. Brixton sunrise is also on the menu ….. apple, passion fruit, cassis and…. champagne.
Our overall experience was good – the staff were attentive and we learnt a lot. The cheese looked great, even if it was out of reach, set out in the two fridges (one for hard and one for soft cheeses). We were pleased to see they have our favourite – aged Gouda. Unfortunately we couldn’t buy anything except sausage and pate as they are not fully open but will be soon, when we will take another look.
We amused ourselves over our champagne by reading the cheese-related blog comments on Urban75 and were pleased that some people were Caerphilly considering joining the demonstration, others thought it was Gouda fun but some could not Brie bothered.
The price is steep for Brixton but after all it is a champagne bar and the area is changing its demographics. So if you go consider it as a treat – a glass of champagne starts at £7.50. We had five between the two of us and a half wild boar sausage (£3.50) so our final bill was £49.00. That was before the service charge which on the menu says “not included” but 12.5% was put on our bill. That may be the fault of the till as there was also teething troubles there too. They need to sort that out soon.