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Champagne Charlies (Bar, Restaurant)

Picture of Champagne Charlies in West End, London

17 The Arches, Villiers Street, West End, London, WC2N 6RE
Cuisine: Gastro
Tel: 020 7930 7737 | Email to Champagne Charlies | Transport: Charing Cross | Write review

Champagne Charlies Review

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Best for: olives! (tip: best eaten with cold dry white wine).

Great: gastropub grub.

Sometimes when I wake up on a Saturday morning I have a faux-hangover. My mouth feels dry, parched even, and as I stumble to the bathroom to stick my head under the cold tap I keep my eyes shut tight. Head pounding, stomach growling and a fuzzy memory: all signs point to alcoholic overindulging the night before. But occasionally, under rare circumstances I must admit, the only indulging I’ve done the previous night is an extended affair with my television remote and a family-sized box of Malteasers.

I’ve come to the conclusion that, because I’m conditioned to waking up on a Saturday morning with a hangover, my body isn’t aware of how it should wake up feeling fresh and rosy at the weekend. It just doesn’t happen. It throws my body out of sync, so unusual it is not to wake up and feel the head-throbbing after-effects of a bottle of wine or two. And so it was, Saturday morning, after I visited Champagne Charlie’s the night before, I woke up with a woeful faux-hangover.

“Water,” I croaked. “I need water.” I thrashed my left arm out of bed in the direction of my bedside table and, hopefully, a glass of water, whilst searching the cavity of my mind for some semblance of memory from last night.

“Wasn’t Champagne Charlie’s in the middle of some sort of shopping centre? Under a railway station?” I asked my long-suffering boyfriend, who grunted from the depths of his pillow. (Disclaimer: said boyfriend would like to point out that he doesn’t suffer from faux-hangovers but does enjoy a lie-in on Saturday morning. I, however, arise early, due to all the faux-alcohol running through my bloodstream.)

Indeed, Champagne Charlie’s, part of the Davy’s chain, is found under the arches of Charing Cross station, flanked by Villiers Street and various market stalls and a spit away from the tourist-saturated Covent Garden. In my fogged half-awake state, I remembered walking downstairs into the basement of a building and being seated by a tall, beaming waiter with a menu.

“Can you remember what you had last night? I can’t remember.” Giving him a poke in the side, I fretted that my meal last night was too distant a memory, never to return to the forefront of my thoughts. Growling, he got up and skulked off to the bathroom. I curled my toes in bed, racking my now-nagging brain for something. Anything.

“Olives!” I shouted in the direction of the bathroom. “We definitely had some olives to start.”

And oh, what tremendous olives they were. They were giant Gordal olives, stuffed with orange, rosemary, sea salt and paprika: lip-smackingly good. The olives alone would be reason to visit again.

Hearing the toilet flush, I looked in the direction of our bedroom door to see my boyfriend clutching an aspirin packet.

“Oh, you’re the best!” I held my hand out gratefully.

“These are for me. Do you have to be such a racket in the morning?” Growl. Sniff. He climbed back into bed.

Like flashbacks, visions of the food we’d eaten the night before very slowly resurfaced.

The highlight of the dinner, for me, was my starters: a dish of crab and mussel soup with salty samphire and saffron. That dish, like the olives, was reason alone to visit Champagne Charlie’s.

The rest of the meal paled into insignificance, and in my clouded faux-poorly brain, was easy to forget. Good gastropub grub, be assured. But not exactly memorable, except as an afterthought. A pot roasted corn-fed chicken was succulent, and balanced on top sat what read on the menu as a mushroom and cabbage faggot but what tasted more like good old honest stuffing. The chargrilled rib of beef on the bone – a glorious homage to the cow and something for serious carnivores – was perfectly medium-rare. Sides of spinach and hand cut chips decorated our table. A chocolate brownie oozed chocolate in just the way it should.

Blink and you’ll miss Champagne Charlie’s. In my foggy memory, brought on by overindulgence of nothing more than two glasses of really good, really fruity Sauvignon Blanc and a belly full of food, only two dishes stayed put in my brain as being really worth the visit. The waiters were nice and friendly, and they suggested dishes on the menu that we went with, and on the whole, were pleased with. But in a city inundated with good gastropubs, and for someone who suffers from faux-hangovers that hinder the memory somewhat, I need something altogether more outstanding.
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Customer Reviews for Champagne Charlies

Average (based on 2 votes): 2 Atmosphere: Value: Quality:

The following customer reviews are not endorsed by Fluid London and are simply those of users who wish to publish their independent experiences of Champagne Charlies.

“Excellent atmosphere and good service however although my steak was excellent the quantity of vegetables was very poor (10 runner beans and 2 small boiled potatoes cut in half) I requested more from the waitress but was informed that was the amount always served? A great shame considering all of the other factors.”
Atmosphere: Value: Quality:
Mike Fitzalan-Hawkes, Arundel, West Sussex (7 years 4 days ago)

“Overrated Expensive and fussy atmosphere Therefore, ideally suited for self important city slickers with more money than sense and no palate for good wine”
Atmosphere: Value: Quality:
Chris Jones, [ Unknown ] (13 years 9 months 17 days ago)

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Additional Information

  • Cuisine Type: Gastro
  • Dress Code: Not Specified
  • Group: Davys

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