Cheese is a pillar of civilisation, as many French gourmets must have said. And Parisian cheese merchant Androuet, in business since 1909, has added to its civilising mission with this London branch, showcasing fine cheeses – British, Italian and others, as well as French – with a likeable joie de vivre. Alongside the shop and its stunning cheese and fine-wine displays, the restaurant/wine bar combines a laid-back terrace on Spitalfields Market and a smaller interior, with a little belle époque grandeur provided by a glittering chandelier.
Cheesy specialities are naturally highlights – two kinds of fondue, raclette and a wonderful tartiflette (potatoes, bacon, onions and herbs baked in reblochon) with every texture and flavour just right, making superb comfort food. Alternatively, you can try the impressive Androuet cheeseburger, or dally over constructing your own cheese-and-charcuterie board. Not everything is so cheesy – there’s also a changing range of mains, salads, sandwiches and starters, such as a delightfully delicate chilled summer pea soup with (OK, slightly cheesy) goat’s milk yoghurt.
The wine list is almost as impressive as the cheese, and for once in London is very decently priced; charming, helpful service is in tone with the whole enterprise. The only problem could be that Androuet outgrows its small space.