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Great restaurant Champagne lists

Our expert guide to the best places to eat in the UK and Ireland if you’re a committed Champagne lover.

Champagne with food? Some wine buffs’ eyebrows may twitch in irritation. For many, Champagne pairs with canapés, or nothing. Yet the Champenois, and some critics (including me), constantly discuss Champagne and food, and inevitably where such beasts can be found together in the wild.

Sommeliers tell me a ‘post-Covid euphoria’ has more diners drinking Champagne. But great Champagne and great cooking do not always share the same address. Great bottles make a great Champagne list only when the food is superior, too. Then magic matches can happen.

I managed a wine shop nearly 30 years ago, and on the day its lease came to an end, a cold Christmas Eve, we locked the doors and the staff had fish and chips with a magnum of Dom Ruinart Rosé 1985. It was perfect because the quality of both was high and they hit it off like great food and drink pairings must.

The famous New York restaurateur Danny Meyer wanted to change the status quo for his Union Square Cafe and Gramercy Tavern guests, not rehash old formulae. He said: ‘Whoever wrote the rule that you can’t have smoked pulled pork with a glass of Champagne?’ It worked for him because the Champagne was superb, and the pulled pork out of this world.

Champagne is very versatile: its fresh, dry styles with gentle floral and savoury flavours match a huge range of dishes. Only the spiciest heat, and maybe chocolate desserts, can spell discord in the Champagne-cuisine love affair.

Seafood is a guarantee of instant elopement with Champagne, as are good cheeses, especially if the Champagne is very dry, for example in brut nature or extra brut styles. Grower Champagne is usually drier than the basic offerings of the grande marque houses, but higher up their ranges the prestige cuvées are often extra brut, with a food-friendly minerality.

This list of restaurants with superlative wine lists is not definitive; only a lack of page space means some deserving good places did not make the cut.


England

Authentique Epicerie & Bar, London NW5

A wine bar so French it could have been parachuted in from Paris. There’s robust cooking as well as charcuterie and cheese plates. And then you realise there’s a wine list as long as your arm consisting of top French wines, including what must be London’s best Champagne list outside Mayfair and W1.

Core by Clare Smyth, London W11

Three Michelin stars

With its three Michelin stars, you would expect this establishment to have an impressive Champagne list. But its strength is in the range of vintage bottles, much greater than its NV offering. It makes sense – the complexity of flavours cooked up here demands the same of Champagne.

Hélène Darroze at The Connaught, London W1K

Three Michelin stars

No expense is spared to match the high-class food with wine and Champagne, but if this is bling, it is the French, discreet sort. The list begins quietly with the very good Louis Roederer Collection 242 and André Jacquart Experience Blanc de Blancs, the first of six names by the glass. You can then contemplate a dozen Krug wines in magnum, along
with large formats from several major houses. Perhaps the Clos du Mesnil 1979, at £15,000 a bottle? There are six pages of top houses, and three for rockstar single estates.

Hide, London W1J

Credit: Joakim Blockstrom

One Michelin star

The Champagne list here is fabulous enough and a great match for the subtle flavour precision of Ollie Dabbous’ menu. But this rich vein is supplemented by London’s greatest fine wine shop, Hedonism, giving you access to Britain’s longest Champagne list. Meanwhile, I love the trundling trolley of regularly swapped Champagnes by the glass, which will keep you occupied.

Le Comptoir Robuchon, London W1J

Simply a very good Champagne list to match quite sophisticated food. The list is divided into ‘houses’ and ‘artisans’, and is eye-bogglingly extensive. Bollinger is a ‘house’ feature, and Eric Rodez an ‘artisan’ counterpart.

Les 110 de Taillevent, London W1G

Credit: Marie de Chessé

There are 110 wines by the glass here, as well as a full bottle list. So maybe it’s disappointing that only five Champagnes are available by the glass, but the list by the bottle is huge and it name-checks some top names – both houses and growers alike. The food here is smart and the service accomplished and pleasant. And for central London, the Champagne prices are – almost – kind.

Noble Rot, London WC1N and W1D

Noble Rot, Soho

A favourite wine geek haunt in London, with four Champagnes by the glass and more than 30 bins of well-chosen houses and growers in bottle at both sites. The food is a cut above most wine bar fare.

The Remedy, London W1T

A small establishment serving small plates in a great atmosphere, with a completely grower-focused list that is well chosen and fairly priced. Always fun, with the cool factor high.

House of Tides, Newcastle-upon-Tyne

Credit: Peter Atkinson / Alamy Stock Photo

One Michelin star

Pol Roger by the glass and a beautifully varied list of top houses, boutique house Champagnes (Delamotte, Jacquesson, Veuve Fourny) and good grower Champagnes. Half the list is below £100 a bottle.

Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons, Great Milton, Oxford

restaurant Champagne

Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons. Credit: Mint Images / Alamy Stock Photo

Two Michelin stars

This Champagne list is distinctive for offering almost the complete range of Veuve Clicquot vintage, vintage rosé and Grande Dame by the glass, all from the very great 2012. These are followed by 12 wines from great houses, both NV and vintage, and the same again from prestigious small family domaines.

Midsummer House, Cambridge

Two Michelin stars

Long established and driven by chef and founder Daniel Clifford, Midsummer House was dubbed ‘a historic and iconic mecca of food’ by Tom Kerridge. I marvel at how its high-pitched dishes stream from the kitchen at such a relaxed pace. The Champagne list has a luxurious cameo of well-chosen and mature top wines – a collection of surprises and delights. Great vintage Champagne, with its subtle and savoury notes, is often a fantastic food match. Among the vintage options here are Krug 1982, Dom Pérignon Oenothèque 1964 and Bollinger RD 2002, and plenty at less stratospheric prices, too.

Moor Hall, Aughton, Lancashire

Two Michelin stars

Inspired food displaying high skill, alongside an exemplary list of prestige Champagnes – top houses and growers – with well-informed cherry-picking in evidence. It’s stunning to see Billecart-Salmon Louis Salmon Blanc de Blancs 2008, Bollinger RD 2002, Drappier Grande Sendrée, Gosset Grand Blanc de Meunier and Marie-Courtin Efflorescence 2015 all in the same place!

Paul Ainsworth at No6, Padstow, Cornwall

One Michelin star

A superb Cornish-leaning menu, with Champagnes Pierre Péters and Krug Grande Cuvée among the by-the-glass options, and a supporting cast of bottles from good house and single-estate names.

The Old Bridge, Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire

John Hoskins MW is the proprietor of this famously welcoming hotel and good restaurant. The Champagne list, although short, offers maybe the best value in the country – two Billecart-Salmons and a Charles Heidsieck Brut NV, all well under £100 a bottle.

The Oyster Club, Birmingham, West Midlands

Apart from the oysters, served in a variety of ways, I recommend the turbot on the bone to pair with any of the well-chosen Champagnes. The list features some big names and a few others known more by enthusiasts, but good all the same. There are half-bottles, magnums and even a jeroboam on offer, too.


Scotland

Andrew Fairlie, Gleneagles Hotel, Auchterarder

Two Michelin stars

This is unabashed luxurious dining, but flavour and invention (and even the food prices) favour precision, not excess. The Champagne list is an homage to Krug, including vintages of Clos du Mesnil and Clos d’Ambonnay at prices close to a deposit on a house 15 years ago. But there are small domaines, too, including 10 wines from Selosse, four of them lieu-dit bottlings.

The Kitchin, Leith, Edinburgh

One Michelin star

There’s Philipponnat, Leclerc-Briant and Drappier’s gorgeous Rosé de Saignée by the glass, and the Philipponnat love affair goes on with 15 separate wines on offer from this house. The list doodles its way through small domaines and top houses, and crescendos with mature vintages of Dom Pérignon, including Oenothèque and Plénitude 2 bottles. Louis Roederer’s Cristal is in there, too. Great matches for a menu featuring classy fish and meat dishes and its famous vegetarian à la carte choices.

The Three Chimneys, Isle of Skye

Pristine, fresh food from both sea and land, cooked with Nordic touches and matched well with a Champagne list that includes Charles Heidsieck, Larmandier-Bernier, Laherte Frères, Salon, and one of Champagne’s top single-vineyard wines: La Rue des Noyers from superstar Benoît Déhu.


Wales

Ynyshir, Eglwys Fach

Two Michelin stars

One of Britain’s most creative menus: a 20-dish tasting extravaganza that takes in aspects of Japan, France and the best Welsh produce (such as the lamb rib dish). There are rooms or tipis to stay in, and an informal tapas tent for simpler meals. The Champagnes on offer are few, but all is forgiven when the outstanding options include Pol Roger 2008, Pol Roger Sir Winston Churchill 2012 and Louis Roederer Cristal 2002.


Ireland

Aimsir, Celbridge, Kildare

Jordan Bailey and Majken Bech-Bailey. Credit: Reuters / Alamy Stock Photo

Two Michelin stars

One of several restaurants within the Cliff at Lyons hotel. Owned by young Anglo-Danish couple Jordan Bailey and Majken Bech-Bailey, the food style is hyper-inventive, based on Ireland’s best ingredients, with a focus on sustainability. The Champagne list is solely elite single estates, whose practices are organic and sustainable, and strive to express the character of their vineyards. It’s a roll call of Champagne’s coolest names: Bérêche & Fils, Chevreux-Bournazel, Dhondt-Grellet, Marguet, Roses de Jeanne and Ulysse Collin, to name a few.

Patrick Guilbaud, Dublin

Two Michelin stars

Amour de Deutz 2011 by the glass catches the eye. The Champagnes are largely elite single estates (Dhondt-Grellet, Egly-Ouriet, Frédéric Savart, etc), but there is Bollinger, Jacquesson, Krug and Louis Roederer Cristal, too. Pierre Péters’ Les Chétillons 2007 with the blue lobster tail is the pairing to go for.


Tips on drinking Champagne in restaurants

Don’t drink it too cold If a Champagne is served much below 12°C then the aromas can lose out to the food.

Give vintage Champagne time in the glass This allows it to open up and meet the flavours of the food. Some Champagnes can even be decanted, which can often be a revelation; losing the crispness from the mousse can really complement food.

Choose ‘by the glass’ to experiment with food pairings A good wine list should have enough choices by the glass, allowing for a number of pairing options. Nowadays, wine preservation systems can help to keep fizz fresh, and bar managers tell me it’s a no-brainer; this way they can sell more Champagne, too.


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