In a recent article for London-based culinary magazine Root & Bone I wrote about Marchampt, a remote, high-altitude village in the far west of the Beaujolais-Villages appellation, home to a trio of talented natural winemakers. Beyond its stellar native terroir, Marchampt is also distinguished, since 2017, by its local restaurant, Une Table dans le Verger, an elegant, unfussy menu du jour bistrot where the slim wine selection highlights these very same winemakers.
Usually I patronise the establishment after tasting with one of them, Nicolas Chemarin, a.k.a “Le Ptit Grobis.” (For reasons which remains etymologically mystifying, inhabitants of Marchampt refer to themselves as “Grobis.”) Often we meet a Marchampt-based antiques dealer friend called Bernard, who I first met at Camille Lapierre’s Festival Dezing a few years back. Welcoming us is the restaurant’s chef, server, sommelière and owner, Bérangère Gauthier, who worked in insurance in Lyon before opening her restaurant in 2017.
For an isolated restaurant at which she is, by all appearances, the sole employee, Gauthier shows an impressive rigour in her work. Une Table dans le Verger is, physically, among the cleanest restaurants in the region. Decor is comparatively understated, Gauthier having wisely avoided the brightly coloured plastic doohickies that litter the walls and tabletops of most restaurants in rural France.
Her work in the kitchen returns the quiet applause to the deadpan French complement of “correct.” A bed of lettuce is fresh, rigidly crisp, bedecked with confetti-coloured radish matchsticks and a goat-cheese egg-roll. Veal coins bear a nice sear beneath their sauce. Cheeses are local. Everything arrives on-time.
Despite having tasted all morning and despite planning to continue tasting all afternoon, I’m never able to resist the occasion to taste Chemarin’s neighbors’ wines, those of Hervé Ravera and Gerard Belaid. It helps that Marchampt is among the choice corners of the Beaujolais which has thrived, or which at least has seemed not to suffer overmuch, from the run of hot vintages since 2015. Often we go through two bottles of unsulfured low-alcohol high-altitude gamay.
A comfortable, day-lit space, fresh ingredients, and a few local natural wines are all one ever really seeks at lunchtime in the tiny hamlets of France. It is a rather depressing sign of the times that restaurants offering all three have become so rare. Picturesque Marchampt – population 450 or so, without cellular service, perched at the threshold of the vineless mountains of le Beaujolais vert – towers above many other villages in this regard. In addition to Une Table dans le Verger, I’m told there is also a table d’hôte serving Indian cuisine that I cannot wait to try.
Une Table dans le Verger
Rue des Villiers
My 2018 article in Sprudge Wine on Camille Lapierre’s Festival Dezing.
More Beaujolais dining: