I wouldn't typically have thought that lying in a hospital bed would be the traditional breeding ground for literary inspiration, but since I'm currently wedged between a man to my right with the most god awful toe nails I've ever seen, and a geriatric gent to my left who won’t stop wailing for help inbetween hocking up his entire chest cavity, I am in dire need of a distraction! After those rotten claws though, I am somewhat loathed to admit that my mind has wandered to cheese, specifically a cheese evening I enjoyed a little before Christmas. I sincerely hope, with every fibre of my being, that my most favourite of all dairy products will not forever be tainted by association. Committed I have though, so continue I must…
It’s been a while since I've visited Spitalfields and my, what a sanitised place it has become eh! I rather enjoyed my rainy stomp from Moorgate, navigating my way through all the roadworks around Liverpool Street and admiring Broadgate Ice Rink en route though. By the time I arrived, the market had all but packed up and closed, but the few permanent dining hotspots were starting to fill with the après workers all gagging for liquid sustenance and trendy nibbles. Elbows at the ready, I nudged my way into Androuet by way of their rustic cheese bar.
Almost full and mildly chaotic on a dark and damp Thursday evening, I scrabble to find a safe spot on which to visibly linger. After 5 – 10 minutes of being jostled by every server forced to rummage with intent next to me, I am joined by a friend who then transforms my inconvenient loitering into a persistent nuisance, so most graciously, we were seated at an open corner of the bar (#win!). Gagging for a vat of French chardonnay (the Côtes du Jura ‘Chardonnay’, Marie & Denis Chevassu 2012 to be precise, priced at a rather reasonable £35 per bottle), we pre-empt the good stuff with some plonk on tap (Poivre d’Âne, Mas des Agrunelles, Languedoc 2013 at £21 per bottle). We wait far too long for it, but when it does arrive, another friend has arrived and we’ve already been moved from the bar stoop to our very own high table, which works out perfectly. The wine on tap was surprisingly palatable too…nothing like the goon bags I used to guzzle from indiscriminately in Australia (for those of you who saved your livers the disgrace of the “silver pillow,” goon is incredibly cheap boxed wine that is the life source of any self-respecting hostel dweller!).
Wine safely secured then (with the chardonnay on its way because the tap stuff disappeared in a hot second!), we turn to the menu of cheese, not to be confused with the cheese menu of course – the former is food and the latter refers to the shop of cheese out back (I’ll get to that shortly, but for the sake of effect, I would like to say cheese one more time…cheese!). Everything on this menu pays homage to cheese and even those few dishes that don’t have cheese in them are a perfect accompaniment to cheese. If I believed in heaven, this is what it would look like.
I was a little worried that service would be slow based on our frenzied arrival experience, but I need not have worried because food was plentiful, timely and delectable. The Raclette Cheese Tapas (£4.50) was an absolute steal and I’m not ashamed to say that I had two…one for a starter and one for dessert (I’m far too old to care about judgement, especially when it comes to cheese!). The Androuet Classic Fondue (£13) was exactly what I wanted from a tank of molten cheese, the Saucisson Charcuterie (£5.50) was generous and adorned with enough baby pickles to ensure that we all felt sufficiently satiated; and the Tortellini with tomatoes, basil & mozzarella (£14) was flavourful - with bread on the side though, it was a bit of a carb overload (I'm not complaining!), and I wish we’d ordered it with the Comte cheese sauce instead of the garlic butter – this was minor and self-inflicted blemish on an otherwise sublime dinner.
Before lugging myself homeward in a wine induced haze, I dragged me and my burgeoning belly into the cheese shop just before it closed. Despite being scolded by the [over]protective French guardian of the cheese (apparently one cannot touch the cheese because it bruises easily, but since I was buying said cheese, I was forced to point out that my handling of it was an inevitable necessity – but thanks for making me feel like a naughty tween), I was suitably impressed by the choice of cheese on offer. Scanning the cheesy stash, I stop in my tracks after spotting the Brillat Savarin and my grubby mitts go in for the kill…if you've not heard of it, GET INVOLVED! Infact, if you’ve not heard of this whole place, GET INVOLVED…it’s informally buzzy, deliciously cheesetastic and quite frankly a bit of a rarity in a city that seems so overwhelmed with burger joints!
I just said cheese 22 times!
I just said cheese 22 times!
|Cheese AND WINE shop, evidently!|
|Raclette Cheese Tapas (£4.50)|
|Androuet Classic Fondue (£13.00)|
|Tortellini + Tomatoes, Basil & Mozarella (£14.00)|
|ENJOY YOUR CHEESE!|