It’s the end of a long road trip for Antoine Houdré, who set out from Troyes, before heading to the capital to work the corkscrew at a few naturalist wine-centric bistros – L’Esquisse, Le Jourdain. Then, after a detour via Les Crieurs de Vin in Troyes where he picked up his chef, Théophile Duc, he stopped over in Essoyes, a quintessential Champagne village near Riceys. And that’s where he opened L’Union, where everything’s quite simple: a small zinc-topped bar, burgundy wooden paneling, a few posters and pictures hung up here and there, a terrace in the shade of the local church and plenty to snack on (Bobosse pâté en croûte, for example) with a sparkling flute of Champagne, before sitting down to eat at a proper table. The night we went, there were sautéed razor clams deglazed in vermouth; crispy panko-breaded monkfish with verdant broccoli; before a cheeky combo of strawberries, cherry tomatoes and white chocolate mousse. And depending on the day, piquillo peppers stuffed with ricotta and spelt wheat, or grilled flank steak with chimichurri sauce. // Adrien Nouviaire
FEELING THIRSTY? : There’s lots to choose from: a Rhone grenache blanc from Les Vignerons d’Estézargues or an Ardèche red from the Domaine de L’Alezan (€3.50 to €7 a glass), Le Chemin Noir, a pineau d’Aunis produced by Philippe Tessier (€32 a bottle), Les Vignes de Montgueux Champagnes from Lassaigne (€55) or a much-too-rare Rosé des Riceys 2015 from Olivier Horiot (€65).
PRICE: : Set menus €17-20 (weekday lunch), à la carte €30-38.
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