I'm not sure how French Bubbles opened without me knowing. I normally keep a firm eye on Hot Dinners New and Coming Soon section, and pay specially attention to restaurants opening in the neighbourhood, Covent Garden. And yet somehow, within the past couple of months (I assume it was that recently but to be honest I have absolutely no idea when it did actually open and I can only hope that it hasn't been here for all of the two years The Boyfriend and I have been here), a casual cheese and wine shop opened within a five minute walk of the house.
I have a special love for cheese places, I've written about how much I adore both La Cave and La Fromagerie, here and here, and in one of these I complained about a lack of similar places closer to home. French Bubbles, has thus answered my prayers. To give it another edge above its competition, the place specialises in champagne as the name suggests.
In many ways French Bubbles beat my expectations. The interior was rustic and homely without feeling contrived. Our chracuterie was excellent, and I like the fact that you can make up your own cheese board, which was a lot of fun. The cheese was brilliant, and I picked at random so I assume its excellent across the board. After two platters of cheese and one of charcuterie The Boyfriend and I were rather full so we didn’t end up trying any of the proper food, but the menu looked great nonetheless. Our waitress was totally charming and even put up with me requesting names of some of our cheeses.
But aside from all of these excellent points there were some problems, they were generous with the actual cheese, and charcuterie, though in terms of additions something wasn’t right. Our first plate showed up with the promised quince jelly nowhere to be found.
The second plate was better; both healthier looking grapes and the jelly perked it up a bit. In both however, the ratio of cheese to bread was completely off - with significantly more slices of cheese than portions of bread. I also didn’t love the bread that came with the charcuterie; I much would have preferred it had we been given a hunk of baguette with each board. However, these were minor gripes.
More importantly by limiting the menu to Champagne (“French Bubbles” does of course imply that there will be no Prosecco, Cava or any other cheaper and often equally good alternatives which is as it turns out was the case) this puts a fairly high starting price of the alcohol component on the meal with glasses beginning £9. For a casual meal out for two wanting to drink the minimum cost starts at £18 (that’s practically a lobster at Burger and Lobster). At La Fromagerie wine starts at £4.20 a glass (sparkling at £6.50), whilst the 10 cases round the corner has wines starting at £4.30 and Champagne at £10, and at Opera Tavern also nearby, wines start at £4.00 with Sparkling at £6.50. Obviously Champagne will always be rather expensive and so its understandable that the minimum cost is so high, but its a shame there is no alternative. Similarly, the selection of glasses was limited to just five meaning it isn’t quite possible to experiment with a huge variety of champagne.
In total the bill came to £60 pre-service, which seems high. I can’t say we over ordered, we finished what we did ordered and later at home I contemplated eating dessert. You could say we over drank, two glasses each, although that’s still only 250 milligrams per person. Perhaps it would have been more cost effective to order a bottle, but we were optimistic about how little we would consume, and in these times it seems tacky to order a bottle of champagne with a casual midweek dinner.