Thursday, 3 May 2012

Places I love in London: L'art Du Fromage

I was going to do some kind of list of "my favourite five restaurants in London" or some such but then I got indecisive about how to rank them and it all seemed needlessly numerical. So, as the mood strikes me, I'll write about my favourite places to eat and drink in London.

Today, L'art du Fromage.  I know I said I wasn't going to get numerical about this but this might well be my favourite restaurant in London.

I first went there during their opening week, when I spotted it on the "new restaurants" page of London Eating.  I've been back at regular intervals, so regular that the staff recognise me, I've taken various friends there and, every time I visit, I love it more.

The lovely co-owners, photo from The Guardian
It's a French restaurant focussed on cheese.  I could just stop there because, frankly, that was all it took to get me there the first time!  But that's not all it is, it's not a restaurant with a gimmick, it's fundamentally one of those lovely places that you find in France so often where they keep it simple but stylish:  the d├ęcor is all warm wood, it's comfortable but still feels special, the staff are attentive but calm and unobtrusive, the wine list is carefully chosen, and - crucially - the food is delicious.  If you like cheese, the place also smells terrific.

I often have the Bleu D'Avergne fondue (which is mysteriously not on the menu on the website but there when you go in person), like all the fondues, you can get as much as you like - including switching to a different type of fondue - and they serve it with a flourish, setting some brandy alight and pouring it in.  I've tried all the fondues (I did say that I've been there a lot!) and, while they are all delicious, the Bleu D'Avergne is the one I always come back to - it's just the most interesting of them and the one that I suspect would be hardest to re-create at home.  I have also had various of the cheeseboards - the only real difference between them is how much of the tasty cheese you want.  They are all beautifully presented and with a real attention to detail - every single cheese is clearly handpicked and is at exactly the right stage for eating.  Sometimes, you'll order a cheese board at a restaurant, even a good restaurant, and find that - say - the brie isn't quite ripe enough or the camembert is disappointingly ungooey.  That does not happen at L'Art du Fromage.  Ever.

I think the only negative thing I can find at all to say about the place is that, location-wise, it's a bit of a faff to get to - it's about as far from a tube station as you can possibly get in central London, but it is on a couple of convenient bus routesAlso, the location stops me from spending ALL MY MONEY ON CHEESE.

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