When Keith I heard there was a Champagne Bar opening at One New Change, adjaent to St Paul’s Cathedral, we were restless until we locked down a date to partake in trying the establishment. Searcy’s, the company behind the bar, are continuing to expand their ever growing empire. Their formula is genius. They appeal to people who now and again desire to feel special, especially when celebrating. Searcy’s are also credited with owning the largest Champagne bar in Europe (situated at St Pancras Station). When we stopped by last Friday, with a friend, we were surprised to find that there were no hoards of thirsty punters also clambering for honey coloured liquid sustenance. Instead, there were pockets of people who were relaxing into the weekend.
We were shown to a table and the staff were immediately attentive. We selected a Bruno Paillard Blanc de Blancs Réserve Privée Grand Cru NV (£85). Bruno Paillard founded in the early 1980s are a relatively new Champagne house. Although comparatively small alongside the Bollingers, Taittingers and Lansons of the world, they have managed to elevate themselves to a prestigious and reputable status. The Champagne was served in elegant, elongated lily shaped stemmed glasses. We were not expecting for the Champagne to be as tart as it was, but that first sip was heaven. Whether it was the brightness on the nose which instantly alighted us, or the green apple crispness, citrus and peach, we could hear the weekdays’ shackles click and unlock.
Worthy of note were the impressive list of Champagnes by the glass, as well as by the bottle. Finding a decent selection of Champagnes (and wines for that matter) by the glass is an ongoing challenge for most oenophiles. However, Searcy’s lists include Bruts, rosés, vintage, blanc de blancs, demi sec, prestige cuvée as well as decantable Champagnes. Impressive. It sounds oxymoronic to say there are Champagnes to suit all budgets. Do not worry if Champagne is not number one on your drink list; Searcy’s also offer a limited range of beers, wines and cocktails.
Having polished off the first bottle amidst animated chatter, we then selected a Philipponnat Rosé (NV) (£75). We were feeling peckish, so ordered a large mixed seafood plate (£12), large charcuterie plate (£12) and foie gras marinated in green peppercorns (£6.50). You may think that everything we have listed sounds plenty for three, but we were not wowed by the nibbles verus the price. The seafood platter was the best of the three. In particular the prawns were meaty, chunky and fresh. The crab (served in the jar), was an endearing idea but tasted bland and unseasoned. You would have expected a lemon segment, but there was nothing. The Charcuterie plate only had two slices of each type of cured meat, so not much of a sharing plate– none of which were outstanding. The foie gras, should have been the highlight. It had a beautiful glistening tanned sheen. However, it too had no discernible taste. Conversely, the Philipponnat Champagne was fantastically effervescent and sprightly. It was perfectly balanced, which made it a pleasure to drink.
Our biggest let down came towards the end of our visit. At eleven o’clock on the dot we were presented with our bill without having asked for it. After spending over two hundred pounds we found this rude and unnecessary. The service up until that point had been impeccable, some may have argued, even over the top. Having a bill presented to us without having asked for it is wholly unacceptable.
It did feel strange to be staring across at a North face clothing store and Wasabi noodle and sushi bar, whilst sipping Champagne. We would have preferred to be slightly more cocooned from the shopping mall. The food is not worth returning for at all, but the appeal of Searcy’s Champagne Bar at One New Change, is the instant availably to a decent range of Champagnes by the glass as well as en vogue restaurants at close range. Jamie Oliver’s Barbecoa and Gordon Ramsay’s Bread Street Kitchen (soon to open) will make this bar an ideal setting for budding Romeos attempting to woo their Juliet or groups celebrating a special occasion.