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Where to Eat in Champagne

Jiles Halling,
UK’s leading Champagne host

You're really spoiled for choice when it comes to good restaurants in Champagne and the problem can sometimes be making a selection amongst all the possibilities.

The other thing is that some of the best restaurants can be a bit pricey to say the least, so here's a suggestion that combines the best of quality and price.

If you're into good food you may well have heard of Les Crayères: the best restaurant in Champagne and one of the most impressive too.

Set in it's own private park and surrounded by a high wall to keep out prying eyes, Les Crayères was brought to fame and 3 Michelin stars, a few years back by chef and owner Gérard Boyer.

M. Boyer passed on the reins some years back but the hotel ( yes you can stay there as well ) and restaurant are as sumptuous as ever, but there is a cost and the price tag at Les Crayères is enough to put off all but the most dedicated foodies.

In addition the atmosphere can be a bit formal too. Fine dining is a serious business in France and a proper respect for the food and wine seems de rigueur at Les Crayères.

Perhaps that's why a more relaxed and far more accessibly priced offshoot of the main restaurant was launched not so long ago.

It's called Le Jardin and not surprisingly, you can find it in a corner of the 'garden' at Les Crayères

The decor is clean and modern as you can tell from the outside.

There's a whole band of waiters waiting to welcome you as you go in ( wonder what the correct collective noun for waiters is) many of whom seem be to fluent in several languages. the standard of the service doesn't falter after you've taken your seat either.

All is all a very slick operation and the staff seem to be kept on their toes at all times by the manager who I saw give a real ticking off to one poor waitress for what seemed like a very minor slip up.

Anyway, on to the food.

There's a reasonably priced menu for 28 euros giving you a choice of two dishes out of three: starter and main, or main and dessert. Plus of course an extensive à la carte selection.

Lots of imaginative food combinations including a dish of poached egg, butternut squash, tomatoes, cheese and ham - sort of rustic but it tasted very good indeed. The portions are quite generous too.

As you can imagine the champagne list was extensive and it was good to see plenty of smaller growers' champagne included, notably Frank Bonville and Domaines Leclaire.

The only possible shortcoming is that there were not many champagnes available by the glass - only two that I could see: Bruno Paillard and Paul Goerg

Still for a good meal at a price that won't spoil your appetite and in an atmosphere where you don't feel out of place having a jolly good laugh out loud, then Le Jardin is worth a visit.

For an update of Jiles last publications: read more …..

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