Le Bouchon only opened on 10 May but already feels well established (and well loved!). As always, we Radical’s have sacrificed our time, blood and treasure (is this too much, ed?) to investigate and have been in three times so far. It is a great little place – cosy as the Council unfortunately opposed the use of the upstairs as a bar area citing the neighbours. On our first trip on opening weekend there was a steady trade of people and those popping their heads in with interest. That bode well and on our following two visits on an afternoon and evening the place was consistently busy. Some people had to be turned away (although owner/manager JP did offer to make reservations for later) and others were content to patiently wait outside!
Inside the place has an authentic wine cellar feel without being twee. The brickwork is exposed, the wood ceiling is arched, and the decor is simple. At the back there is something akin to a snug by the (non-working, feature) fireplace. There is a mix of tables for two and four plus benches with high stools. Prized spots by the window, although we Radicals have found ourselves opting for the table by the bar – great for people-watching! There are also tables outside and the front windows can be fully opened.
JP has tried to provide as many wines as possible by the glass and carafe but the bottle list is more extensive. Wines are reasonably priced with (well filled) glasses from about £6 upwards, carafe’s from the £15 mark and bottles anywhere from £20 to £100. The Radicals have worked through many of the wines by the glass and most customers seemed to be in for a glass or two or a carafe which allows the casual drinker to mix things up a bit. But bottles were to be seen on tables too. And the wine is good so if you find a favourite make a note and consider a bottle on the next visit!
We are no wine buffs but have taken a liking to a few. Whites: Picpoul de Pinet, Languedoc, IGP Pays d’Hérault (Viognier), Pinot grigio/Pinot nero, Veneto. Reds: St Chinian, Cramele Recas, Calusari, Viile Timisulu (Pinot noir from Romania!), and the Sangiovese from Tuscany. Add in something from the charcuterie and/or the cheese board – either set (£15 for 5 pieces) or make your own (£3 a piece) – and it is thoroughly civilised. And all the bread comes from the local Boulangerie Jade.
We expect that continued success will establish Le Bouchon in the village and there are opportunities for it to be enhanced, such as through turning the upstairs room (previously used by Curry Garden as restaurant seating) into a tasting room for special events.
As a post script, our in-house poet (every respectable blog has one on staff) was so inspired he wrote this:
There is a new bar called Le Bouchon
And to visit is so in fashion
My French I confess
Is really a mess
As I believe ‘plug’ is the English translation.
PPS: Bouchon is ‘cork’, you’re fired, Ed.