Have you ever waiting in anticipation for a special trip or a date with that special someone, having it be worth
waiting every single minute? That is how I felt with RM Champagne Salon. When Element Collective, the group behind Old Town Social and Nellcôte, announced the opening of a high style champagne salon, I was ecstatic to say the least. Technical issues with the city permitting, set the opening back and only fueled my anticipation. I felt like a kid wanting to open gifts before Christmas. The only difference is that the excitement did not die down long after the gifts were unwrapped. In fact, it feels like you are unwrapping one surprise after another, starting with the first step down the understated walkway.
Sophisticated Elegance, Made Accessible
RM is tucked behind its sister spot Nellcôte on Green Street. Once you turn the corner at the end of the walkway, you feel as if you are transported to a cafe in Europe. A spacious outdoor patio sits on a secluded cobblestone courtyard, framing the base of the 1,500 square foot salon. Walk up the steps and you enter the salon’s intimate interior, feeling as if you are hanging out in someone’s home. If you are lucky enough, you can snag a spot in front of the inviting fireplace.
“RM” is a designation for Grower Champagne in which an artisanal farmer bottles his own wine. It is the abbreviation for Récoltants Manipulants, a designation given by the French wine Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée (AOC) system’s classification of Champagne Houses. To celebrate this passion and care, RM pays homage to the growers that rely solely on the fruit from their own vineyards.
Just like with Nellcôte (see my post “Excessively Simple”), RM also embodies Element Collective’s core philosophy - a balance between progressive and approachable. One of Element Collective’s partners, Chris Dexter explains, “We share an appreciation for artisanal products that just exude the care with which they were made... and these vignerons, these grower-producers, they have the dirt under their fingernails to prove it. There’s no pretense within any of our projects, nor is there at RM—which is why we chose the bold simplicity of the acronym over the complicated French phrase from which it is derived.”
RM has a very elegant, intimate, and romantic feel about it, as portrayed by the pastel blue walls, antique light fixtures, and intimate candle lit tables. This was certainly the feel Element Collective was going for, as the salon draws inspiration from Grace Kelly, who serves as the ‘muse’ of RM’s design aesthetic. On any given night you can find a table of girlfriends enjoying bubbly or a couple having a romantic evening out.
RM is led by sommelier Jason Wagner, who formerly served as Wine Director alongside 28-time Michelin Star recipient Chef Joël Robuchon of L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon in New York. His goal is to strip away the intimidating aspects of Champagne, showing guests that is fun to drink bubbly while at an accessible price point. Bubbly by the glass always pours for under $10 and rosé bubbly under $15. You can tell Jason is passionate about his craft, enjoying sharing your selection with every pour. Jason also offers large formats from his portfolio, by sending out exclusive “tweets” or social media posts when pours from a magnum are available. This is a wonderful opportunity to try amazing labels that would normally be only available by the bottle and expensive to purchase.
The Champagne, sparkling, and wine menu are perfectly paired with a delightful cheese program and canapés, as well as refined petits fours, pastries and mignardises (tiny, bite-sized desserts) made in-house by rock star pastry chef Nate Meads. I have a ridiculously big sweet tooth and Chef Nate succeeds in satisfying it. His macarons and soufflés are probably one of the best I have had in the city, while his house-made marshmallows are delicious “light as air” bites. However, his stars are takes on childhood classics such as Kit Kat and the hazelnut truffle, which remind me of the Italian-brand truffle.
Beyond the Bubbles
Jason and the RM staff make every experience a magical one, so much so that it is intoxicating, making you long for the next visit. Every attention to detail is thought through, so that your evening is an enjoyable one. So, enjoy an evening at RM and let yourself be whisked away to a magical place under the stars! Check out this video put together by Jamco Creative, to see what I mean!
Photo credit: RM Champagne Salon