Searcys is the best of London and Paris, and as close as you get in location to the two situated on The Grand Terrace and upper concourse of St Pancras International. Under the wrought iron and glass arched ceiling of St Pancras, a more romantic and sophisticated setting there couldn’t be. Inside it’s 1920s Art Deco, low lit with the feel of an old fashioned train car. The bar itself is the longest Champagne bar in Europe. A chic French brasserie in style it has a thoroughly British-sourced menu featuring Pyefleet rock oysters, portland crab, Celtic Sea prawns, West Country cockles and John Ross Jr. smoked salmon, with even more of our favourite meat dishes for main. The wine list is even cross Continent with Champagne hand-picked from established houses and small, independent growers and sparkling wines from England’s best.
But it’s not just the location I’m here to pump. It’s the masterclasses put on by the Searcys ‘The Collection’, led by expert sommeliers sharing their passion and thirst for bubbles. They will guide you through the Tasting Trio of the month, alongside expertly paired small plates. I went to celebrate English Wine Week with a masterclass in UK sparkling wines. The menu featured Cheltenham beetroots, chicory, watercress, ‘coconut ‘Cheddar’ candied walnuts, paired with Surrey cuveé brut, Greyfriars. Seared sea trout fillet, broccoli, creamed Why Valley asparagus sauce followed, paired with Furleigh Estate Rose from Dorset. Yorkshire rhubarb fool, cinnamon crumb was beautiful with Nyetimber’s demi-sec sparkling wine, Cuvee Cherie.
Now depending how you drink sparkling wine – to mark a special moment or as a regular tipple – it’s rare (at least for me) to try more than one or two different bottles in a session, working out exactly why, for that moment, you rate whichever it is best. I normally would pick a dry brut style with a crisp finish for any occasion, without taking into consideration, well… anything. But at a Searcys masterclass I learned an appreciation, and respect (!!), for all different kinds. The Greyfriars to start would have been my top, were we not lead through the characteristics and gorgeous taste of the rosé with the seared trout – not to mention the good colour combo.
The pudding-paired demi sec to finish would have made the ignorant and before-masterclass me turn my nose up at the sweeter pink fizz, but served with the most delicate rhubarb dessert alongside a quick education I learned that I absolutely love a sweet sparkling wine. I’ll be trying it again come summer with English strawberries and cream. I fully intend to become a lady who always drinks a trio of sparkling wine on a journey through from fresh to sweet, as one would with a meal. Why choose?
The best thing about the masterclass is that it’s designed to appeal to the accomplished connoisseur as well as to the masses. My date, who owns a wine shop and bar, enjoyed the 90-minute ‘class’ as much as I did, getting to talk taste and shop with a fellow expert. These private masterclasses are £59pp, with a three-course dinner of wonderfully paired plates and, of course, a glass of each of the featured wines.
4th February will see Rosé with Passion featuring Paul Déthune from Ambonnay, Champagne, the West Sussex Nyetimber Rosé and the Veuve Cliquot Rosé Champagne.
10th March hosts Ladies of Champagne with the Taittinger, Perrier-Jouët and Laurent-Perrier trio of dames. More dates to note down that are certain to be equally as luxurious but with the theme yet TBD (though ball-park you can guess…) are 7th April, 5th May, 2nd June, 7th July, 8th September, 6th October, 3rd November. It’s perfect birthday present planning right here.
St Pancras Brasserie and Champagne Bar by Searcys
Grand Terrace, St Pancras International Station
London N1C 4QL