By: Cindy Westby | K&L Staff Member
Hotel (and Restaurant) Avizes – A Reservation Worth Wrangling
As many of you know, my husband “Champagne Gary Westby” keeps a running list of the very best places to eat and sleep in Champagne. After visiting the region every year for well over a decade, I think he has just about tried them all! I was lucky enough to join him on his most recent visit to Champagne (his second trip this year), and we were both thrilled to discover a brand new restaurant for “the list”.
Located on the Cotes de Blanc in the tiny village of Avize is Hotel and Restaurant "Les Avizes". It opened in 2011 and is operated by Corrine and Anselme Selosse, who are also associated with the intriguing Champagne house Domaine Jacques-Selosse. The hotel offers only ten rooms, and reservations at the restaurant can be difficult to obtain if you are not a hotel guest. Nevertheless, if you are planning a trip to Champagne, I recommend trying to wrangle a reservation however you can!
As is tradition in the nicer restaurants of France, you are invited upon arrival into the salon prior to dinner in order to take the aperitif, peruse the menu and plan the meal. This is perfect for Gary and me - we have no problem spending several happy minutes trying to convince each other to order a certain dish so that we can have a favorite wine with the dinner...Fortunately, at Les Avizes, the daily menu is fixed and so the only thing we had to agree upon were our wines.
It was a great pleasure to look over their wine list, which contained many things I wanted to drink at very reasonable prices. We selected the Franck Bonville Extra Brut Blanc de Blanc for our aperitif. And, after sneaking a peek at the daily menu which was chalked on the door of the kitchen, we also selected 2007 Lafarge Volnay as the red wine for our meal.
The menu that day struck me as very “provincial” with courses featuring mussels in a curry broth, cod with pesto and lamb accompanied by a modern riff on ratatouille. The extra brut with its super-low dosage was the perfect aperitif to revive us after being awake for some 36 hours en route to France, and played surprisingly well with the curried mussels, emphasizing their sweetness. After all, the Champagne had only traveled around to corner from its birthplace to reach our lips!
The 2007 Lafarge Volnay, decanted in advance, was also a winner. Already showing a touch of brick color on the edges, this was open and aromatic, nicely structured, and elegant in the mouth.
The atmosphere of the hotel and restaurant is very fresh with soaring ceilings, tons of windows and a clever mix of antiques and modern design elements. Service was warm and comfortable, with the Chef overlooking his guests from a small elevated kitchen and one bustling woman acting as host, sommelier, AND waiter…all supervised quite competently by an elderly wire-hair terrier who ensured that all guests were greeted, and that no crumbs hit the floor.
A toast to you,