Champagne + Fromage in Brixton
Recently opened in the increasingly trendy Brixton Village is Champagne + Fromage, a small restaurant and shop whose specialities are not difficult to guess. The restaurant, a smaller version of the one in Covent Garden, is charmingly decorated, with cluttered surfaces, baskets of cheeses, and saucissons hanging from hooks to give an authentic French market feel. Two fridges are crammed full of cheeses, while another is stuffed with champagne. Django Reinhardt plays loudly through the speakers and gives the small place a vibrant, rustic ambience. Owner Stefano Frigerio explained why he chose Brixton as the location for this second branch: “I love Brixton Village, it’s a fantastic place. I thought our concept was perfect for the Village and there is a great diversity of people in the area.”
The menu lives up to the restaurant’s name. None of the options seem particularly substantial – there are no mains as such – but there is plenty of choice: cheese boards, charcuterie platters, baked camemberts. The combinations are all very simple, relying on the big flavours of the cheese and the meats to stand out on their own without much embellishment. As Frigerio explains, “what we like is something that is very simple that works together very well.”
After a look at the champagnes on offer, costing upwards of £7.50 per glass, we began with a glass of the Colin Cuvée Alliance, which promised apple, pear and citrus fruitiness with a light biscuit complexity. The apple and pear came through strongly, and the champagne had a gentle, mellow palate, with a slightly tart finish as the citrus came through at the end.
To eat, we both opted for the Savoyarde tartine, small triangles of rustic toast topped with new potatoes and melted raclette, slices of saucisson and salami, and sharp cornichons and pickled shallots to undercut the heaviness of the cheese and meat. The plate was dusted with plenty of black pepper that added a gentle and welcome warmth, particularly on such a chilly night, while the soft potatoes and the aromatic, mild raclette cheese were perfect comfort food. There was a nice variety of textures, from the crunchy toast to the molten cheese – a satisfying dish. For dessert I tried the Champagne sorbet while my companion had the Little Macarons. The sorbet offered little sparkle in terms of presentation but it had an excellent flavour: sweetened, but not too much, smooth and refreshing. And, by the end of the three scoops, it became clear that it was fairly boozy too. The five macarons came in pretty pastel shades and different flavours – chocolate, pistachio, raspberry, lemon and coffee.
Champagne + Fromage, with its many sharing dishes such as charcuterie plates and baked camemberts, is ideal for couples or for friends who don’t mind getting their fingers a bit dirty. Frigerio tells me that he is trying to offer something unique: “I want to give to people coming to Brixton unique products at prices that are affordable. A glass of excellent champagne is the same cost as going to a pub.” The restaurant became extremely busy as the evening went on and it’s clear from this, and from Frigerio’s positivity, that the place is set to do very well. It offers uncomplicated charcuterie-based dishes that are full of big flavours and are reasonably priced – simple, and very satisfying.
Photos: Jay Shaw-Baker
Champagne + Fromage: 51/60
The Brixton branch does not take bookings, but for a menu or to book at Covent Garden visit the restaurant’s website here.