At Pigalle Fromage Club, Cheese Is the Perfect Partner to Saké

This bar in Paris's 9th arrondissement seeks to change the image of this alcohol thought of as a liqueur, but drunk like white wine.


WordsRebecca Zissmann

© Pigalle Fromage-Club

At Pigalle Fromage-Club, cheese and sake go hand in hand. This idea is winning over customers who, despite having come primarily for the cheese, leave feeling happy to have discovered new flavours and the complexity of sake. First, customers choose their cheese platter. Then, the team offers an assortment of at least three kinds of sake, presenting them in such a way as not to confuse any as yet uninitiated customers. To accompany a fresh cheese, a drier sake is more likely to be chosen, while mature cheeses go better with a stronger sake. The sake is served in a balloon glass that’s suitable for an aperitif and traditionally reserved for wine.


A blend of cultures

With regard to the ambiance, Pigalle Fromage-Club does not offer a completely Japanese-inspired experience. The cheeses and small starters are not eaten with chopsticks, but rather with cutlery. However, visitors can still admire the ceramic dishes that are the work of Japanese artist Yuko Watanabe, a friend of the owner.

The bar’s founder, Yves de Roquemaurel, knows Japan well. He lived there for over ten years and ran a French restaurant in Shibuya, in the heart of Tokyo. While there, he developed an interest for this rice-based alcohol and decided to make it known in Paris, away from its traditional market.

Yves de Roquemaurel is constantly on the hunt for new additions to add to his sake cellar. He meets sake producers from all over Japan who provide him with good vintages. From Akita to Hiroshima, every Japanese region has its own sake. Some are even prize-winning, like Hiroshima’s Hakuko Junmai ‘Red Label’.


An alternative to wine

According to the owner, a perfect tasting would begin with Sekiya ‘Enter Sake’ from the Aichi region. Its freshness allows the palate to get used to the subtle flavours of the rice-based alcohol. The sensory voyage continues with Rihaku Shuzo’s Junmai Nigori, an unfiltered sake with a white, almost milky appearance, which brings out the taste of creamy cheeses. Strong cheeses are more often paired with 10- or 15-year-old sake with a woodier taste. And to add a gourmet touch to dessert, Yves de Roquemaurel suggests a variety with an exotic fruit taste, the yuzu-flavoured Umeda Honshuichi Muroka.

Pigalle Fromage-Club proves that sake can be a credible alternative to wine. It even offers a sparkling version, such as ‘Phoenix Sparkling’, named after the French electronic band of the same name who, being big fans of Japan, decided to begin producing their own sake over there, much like Hollywood stars get into winemaking in France. And indeed, Yves de Roquemaurel declares that to those who love wine, sake comes easily.


More information about Pigalle Fromage-Club can be found on its website (only in French).

© Pigalle Fromage-Club

© Pigalle Fromage-Club

© Pigalle Fromage-Club

© Pigalle Fromage-Club