Praying for St Aubin, St Veran, St Chinian, & St Emilion

If the Planning Committee decision on Le Bouchon (replacing the Curry Garden on Tranquil Vale) is favourable our prayers will be answered and these are but a few of the wines that will be available. The Committee meets on 06 May and owner Jean-Philippe will open as soon as possible afterwards. As we have previously reported JP has addressed the most serious concern: the door has been relocated from the right to the centre (Blackheath remember!). Exterior Just the noise and ‘too many pubs/bars’ objections to overcome…

As ever, in the pursuit of the truth we Radicals have secured some exclusive pictures of the interior. The previous post included the Floor Plan and you can start to get an idea of the space and décor. Looking good so far and we can see why JP is confident he’ll open soon after a decision.

But what of the wine? Well, the five page provisional wine list has also been obtained by the Radicals. As expected it is predominantly French, with some Italian and Spanish offerings and a nod to the New World too. JP is aiming to emulate the likes of ‘Terroirs’ and the ‘Green Man and French Horn’ and seems on course to succeed! Now, to the Jilly Goolden and Oz Clarke book of excessive descriptions for wine bouquets.

Interior in progressInterior2 in progressInterior3 in progress

15 thoughts on “Praying for St Aubin, St Veran, St Chinian, & St Emilion

  1. Is it too early to be thinking of nice, zesty Muscadet? Rich, nutty St Aubin? Perfumed Barolo….hmmmm, well it is almost 9am!

    Wine list looks very good – we’ll be 100% there on opening night!

  2. Really impressed with JP’s effort to add something new to Blackheath Village, while making sure it fits in with its surroundings. I hope the planning application is approved. In terms of licensing (for sale of alcohol and late opening), luckily for Le Bouchon, the premises already had an alcohol licence, as new ones are extremely hard to obtain in certain protected parts of the Borough of Lewisham, including Blackheath Village. The old Curry Garden’s licence was varied last year to allow alcohol to be sold without being part of a table meal (which was the previous condition), but no changes were made to opening hours. I hope that means there’ll be some wine-tasting classes…

  3. That’s a planning application, not a licence variation. They work independently, so even if change of use is approved, the licence also has to be amended to remove conditions ensuring that “substantial” meals are served. Kevin says this has been done but I cannot find evidence on the Licensing Committee page.

  4. It is admittedly not easy to do searches for licensing decisions on the Council website, but here is the link to the minutes of the Licensing Committee meeting held on 15 August 2013, which set out the issues raised and the decision reached: At para 3.10 of the minutes, the applicant agreed to the condition that “substantial meals would be available at all times” ie although the varied licence allows alcohol to be served without food, food must still be available throughout the licensed times. I see a copy of the letter from the Council to Curry Garden dated 15 August 2013 setting out the conditions added to the varied licence is included in the “Documents” section in the planning application portal (as per link above).

    Dai is right to say planning and licensing decisions are made independently from each other, as different regulations apply, which do not not take account of decisions made outside their remit. In practice, that means anyone operating a business in licensed premises that are also subject to planning conditions has to ensure that they don’t go beyond the limits imposed by conditions in either the licence or the planning permission.

  5. I have a copy of that decision. My confusion arose because you appear to have said this had been varied. I’m sorry to appear pedantic but the committee was quite specific that it granted this licence variation because “substantial table meals are to be available at all times” [and]” the operation would not be drinks led.” This meant it would not breach the Cumulative Impact Zone. The planning application seeks to negate this by withdrawing food provision. The licence condition is, therefore, broken and a new one is required.
    I am sure the new operator has no intention of causing disturbance but what if he sells up? You will know as a councilor how premises can [and have] morphed from friend to foe via stealth changes. I see that directly opposite this intended bar, the Crown is trying [again] to extend its licensing hours despite insisting in the past that it would conform to local residents’ complaints.

  6. Dai, I looked through the planning application document online and could not see any reference to the removal of food provision, so I contacted the applicant’s agent, who confirmed that, notwithstanding the application to change use of the premises from A3 (restaurant) to A4 (wine bar), there was no intention to remove the provision of food and so there would be no breach of the licensing condition.

    The second question about selling premises is always a concern. Although planning permissions and licences are transferable to new owners, in the case of licences, any change of owner has to be notified to the Council, which has the ability to review the licence as a result (and a licence can be reviewed at any time if residents and/or councillors ask for it).

    On The Crown, I am aware of its application and I understand residents’ objections have been sent to the licensing department. It will certainly be more difficult for The Crown to extend its hours because of its location in the Cumulative Impact Zone, the main effect of which is to imply a presumption that any new licence or extension of limits in existing licence will adversely impact on various licensing objectives with the result that any application would therefore be rejected unless the Licensing Committee can be persuaded that there would be no such adverse impact. Ordinarily I would sit on the Licensing Committee that would decide on this decision, but cannot on this occasion as I have helped residents in looking at how the Cumulative Impact Policy applies in Blackheath.

    • The proof will be in the pudding – or lack of said dish – when the bar opens. I cannot see the logic of going through the cost and hassle of change of use from restaurant to wine bar if “substantial table meals” will still be provided “at all times”. I will keep an eye out for the menu posted in the window as I would welcome a decent French bistro. I still smell a rat – although that may be due to the number that scurry around the lane behind the premises.

  7. The information on the application to vary the alcohol licence in August 2013, was that the new owner intended to open a French Wine Bar and Restaurant. The variation was granted to allow selling wine and champagne, but on condition ‘substantial meals were available at all times’ and that the operation was not drinks led. Why then, has the owner not already opened as a French Wine Bar and Restaurant ?! The window only advertises ‘Wine Bar opening soon’. Interesting! Surely you would not apply for planning permission to change from a Restaurant to a Wine Bar, if you intended to be a French Wine Bar and Restaurant and already had the necessary licences to open. Strange!

  8. Well it’s open and, quelle suprise, not a sniff of “substantial table meals available at all times”. In other words, it is a drinks-led establishment – which is precisely what the licensing committee said it must NOT be. So from day one, the place is illegal.
    I have no objection to a daaarling little place for pretentious wine snobs. I’m sure they are extra-well behaved after a bottle or two of some rare, over-priced vino produced by dwarf peasants in the upper reaches of the Andes. Unfortunately, this sets a precedent for others to mutate into dens for the itinerant plonk-and-cocktail crowd, who can be a little err, boisterous, to say the least [Cactus Pit anyone? Or Cave Austin?] So can we expect a new licence application? Or maybe a shock raid by the massed ranks of licensing poilce [That’s you Sgt Plod].

    • Oh dear. We Radicals believe in that quaint old thing called free speech so (unlike other local blogs) we don’t censor or pre-approve comments and normally avoid passing comment on other’s opinions. But some comments verge on the hysterical and mildly offensive. We have a slightly higher view of humanity and don’t begrudge people having a good time, be it getting a decent second hand book at the Age Exchange, having a curry, or dare it be said a drink in Blackheath. We even think it is rather good for the village to attract people from a wider area with a diverse range of establishments. Clearly some commentators do not and we respect all opinions sensibly and rationally made. Most in Blackheath will welcome and support a new, independently owned business. Of course, to avoid disruption and noise we could just shutter up the whole village. This evening a few respectable looking couples were in there. Not tearing the place or village apart and probably, like us, know their red from white, can pick what they like in the supermarket, and that’s about it. Places like Le Bouchon provide a convivial atmosphere for an evening out and the opportunity for people to try something a bit different at a price they are willing to pay/can afford. And if they learn a bit more about wine they like, is that so bad? All we say is try it or give it a chance.

  9. Dear bloggers,

    I can see there is a little agitation around the opening of Le Bouchon. As I have been struggling with the UK legislation myself, I can understand that.
    In a few words, and as it has already been pointed by Kevin, a place needs to have a licence and the proper planning permission.

    So far :

    – the alcohol licence has been obtained for wine and champagne with food available at all time.
    – the change of use was necessary to be able to sell alcohol without food (even if available). It is imposed by law. It has been obtained.

    In case I sell the place, the alcohol licence wouldn’t suddenly be changed. The new owner would have to apply if he wants to sell other types of alcohols.

    All the conditions being fulfilled, I invite you to taste some of the wines made by normal size people, as well as nice cheese and charcuterie (substantial meal size of course ! )


    Le Bouchon

  10. One last message and I’ll leave you to provide the “substantial table meals” [or not] which are a strict condition of your licence. To put this in context, just behind your place is the best steak restaurant in the area. But the premises now occupied by Buenos Aires was not always a delight. In a previous life back in the Nineties as Christies and The Oasis the then-owners won over sceptical licencing magistrates by promising to provide drinks only with “substantial table meals”. They had to show sample menus and even the name of the chef. Said chef never materialised and within nano-seconds menus became bar snacks and the place was crowded with cocktail and lager drinkers: so crowded that they regularly blocked the pavement. Passers-by [including mums in push-chairs] crossed the busy road rather than face threats of violence from tattooed louts [male and female]. Parking outside became a nightmare as heavies [including some legendary villains] left flash vehicles blocking legitimate parkers. Complaints were met by police and council with shrugs. After more than a year of this hell, local residents had to go as far as the High Court to get the licence revoked. Neither council nor police ever apologised.

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