First Name Terms with A Champagne named Colin

A review of Champagne and Fromage in Greenwich SE10

I’d just like to say, I’m on first name terms with a champagne called Colin. But when we pointed this ‘silly name for a classy drink’ out to the waitress at Champagne&Fromage, with an immature giggle, she pronounced it in a French accent which sounded so much more sophisticated. This led to attempts to think of names which did not translate well into French (and we hadn’t even started drinking yet). Where was Dave, for example? “Daveed” she responded with narrowed eyes. Champagne&Fromage is a dinky little place, where many tourists peer into the windows to see what happens within, so our ignorance was public.

A champagne called Colin

Our waitress compounded her superiority by pouring the champagne swiftly into two vertical glasses with no overspill, releasing the biscuity smell into the air. She cracked a smile then, and said, that’s my new party trick. Colin actually turned out to be the duller (Chardonnay based) champagne than the pinot based (and cheaper) Blanc de Noirs.

The interior of Champagne and Fromage

We were offered the option of choosing our own cheeses, but we deferred to the experts (ie. The Waitress with the French Accent). This resulted in dark cherries poured on top of a soft cheese which was melt in mouth delicious – and I’m not normally keen on ‘sweet’ with cheese. There was also a goat’s cheese rolled in the grassy flavours of thyme (no Boursin here – fortunately.)

They were complemented with shot glasses of condiments: olive tapenade which was too sweet for me, sweet enough to be sandwiched between layers of sponge cake and sold as dessert and just as with every cheese tray, there was a fig jam. (Why? Why?) However the basil preparation contained a healthy dose of garlic and redeemed the condiment with cheese concept for me.

Meat and Cheese at Champagne and Fromage

The large number of meats on the board were nice, but too strongly flavoured against the champagne and spoilt it a bit. I’d recommend sticking with cheese if you are having the champagne. The restaurant has got Champagne&Fromage only in the name after all.

Now this is where your average diner is going to make a terrible mistake. The average diner is going to say, I have just had a delicious treat of luxurious products, and I feel very spoilt and I am going to leave now. Erreur Terrible!

Fortunately I am not your average diner. Instead of the ‘I am going to leave now’ bit, I say ‘right, dessert!’ And my decision here is going to prevent you from making L’erreur terrible. Because the desserts are the best I have had in a long time as sampled with the dessert platter: french macrons (are more floury tasting than British ones); Good cheesecake with chocolate chips, which whilst sounding like a gimmick had a fantastic effect on the consistency and unlike almost every other cheesecake in the world was not childishly saccharine ; and the seasonal caneles, made up of very salted caramel (have you noticed how all caramel is supposedly salted these days? well this one really was), and a spot-on batter.

It’s a long time since I had a dessert as good as this one. Thanks Colin.

Is there anything as rustically beautiful as an Oyster?

A review of the Oyster and Steak Bar in Waitrose Canary Wharf.

I know you don’t come here for reviews of supermarkets, but even if you find them very boring you will be in them very often. It’s not reasonable to expect me not to have an opinion no them when I eat from them so frequently.

I think we were shopping in John Lewis, which was why we ended up in Waitrose Steak and Oyster Bar. We were entangled in a rather expensive affair about the wrong type of wine glasses in the right boxes at a till on the upper levels that made us want to sit down and relax relatively soon.

To be honest, the view when coming to sit down was a little grubby. This was a late lunch, but it seemed that no one had cleaned up before the visitors preceding us. The menus were also a little wrinkled. The other disappointing thing about the menus, was the lack of a steak and oyster combination. I mean, maybe steak and oyster isn’t ‘a thing’, but it becomes ‘a thing’ in your head when you go to a bar that is called a steak and oyster bar. There was a degree of surf and turf, but it featured lobster rather than oysters.

So we ordered 6 oysters to share. Followed by steak. This seemed the only appropriate response to the crisis.

Is there anything as rustically beautiful as an Oyster? If I tried to paint one with photographic perfection, it would still look like I had messed up the paints.  And these oysters were pure seaside. I always put the proffered lemon or chilli on them, and then decide that really they are best eaten just alone.

There was a veerrry long wait for the steak. Perhaps the chef had read my review of Cau and thought that he should charcoal my steak to be sure not to receive the same verdict. We could see the chef breaking open packets of Waitrose steaks to cook. I had thought that there was a good range of sauces, and went for chilli and garlic butter, with just a little regret that I did not choose tarragon butter as my husband did. However these arrived as discs of butter (yes, they had said butter) and I think that sauces would have been vastly superior. But both steaks were excellent.      Who can account for the amount of daytime champagne drinking that occurs at a steak and oyster bar? Is it the oysters have a knee-jerk relationship with champagne. (Oysters don’t have knees, so this doesn’t make a lot of sense). I really wanted champagne myself, but I have learned that day time drinking is not for me and on this occasion my sensible side won out.  

  Just so you know, the wine glass debacle has resulted in me having white glasses and red glasses. This feels a little too snobby for me, really and I am still trying to come to terms with it.