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Cheeky dishes and snobby drinks: the winning combination from Audrey Gaillet and Simon Pénin (ex-Au Bon Manger et Au Cul de Poule in Reims), the sparkling couple from the Champaign region who deserted their chalk-rich soils for the volcanic land of the Auvergne region. In this sleek bistro (blonde hardwood floors, white walls, an open kitchen, a blackboard menu of the day, vintage chairs, white tablecloths), Audrey sends corks flying, while Simon works the kitchen. The other day at lunch, his excellent lunch menu really hit the bull’s eye: smoked Le Sancy trout, toasted almonds and garden tomatoes with an oregano pesto made with herbs cultivated from the surrounding vineyards; a traditional, big and crispy stuffed pig’s trotter paired with classic mashed potatoes and a delightful jus; before a timeless lemon pudding sprinkled with raspberries, over a Breton shortbread cookie like grandma used to make. At dinner, the house gets rid of the prix-fixe menu and serves everything à la carte (eg.: salt-baked beetroot with pickled beets and smoked trout; Charolais chuck steak with Sichuan pepper; Le Sancy Arctic char with vanilla…) and pops open even more bottles of bubbly. // A.A.

FEELING THIRSTY? A superb selection of natural Champagnes: a Marne from Mouzon-Leroux (€10 a bottle), an Axonais from Bourgeois-Diaz (€10), an Aube from Roland Piollot (€46 a bottle)…. And if you’re not in the mood for something sparkling, there’s a beautiful selection of natural wines as well: Grain de Sable, an Alsatian Riesling from Léo Dirringer (€23 a bottle), or Le Môl, a local red from Patrick Bouju (€27). Plus excellent organic espresso from Café Clandestin (Jura) at €2.

PRICE: Menu €18 (weekday lunch), à la carte €26-44.

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