1a Langton Street,
We were sitting at a table at L’art du Fromage, purely because my friend and dining partner Lara could be best described as a cheese freak. She had been told about the restaurant by her brother’s girlfriend (another cheese freak), and had emphatically stated that we should reviews it. Blue cheeses are a favourite with her, which is interesting as she’s allergic to penicillin. She’d mentioned this before in passing but it had slipped my mind, so I thought I’d try to clarify things:
"You're allergic to penicillin, right?"
"Haven't a clue."
"Well, which cheeses are you allergic to?"
"Haven't a clue."
Excellent. There's nothing quite like a bit of 'will she, won't she die?" after each mouthful, whilst you're sat in a restaurant brimming with Roquefort, Blue de Gex & Saint Agur. A little bit like Russian roulette if you will, except with curd and whey. So, opting for *ignorance is bliss*, we delved into the menu and cooed over the findings for a while.
The restaurant is a snug fit when you walk in. There are more tables on the upper floor, but at ground level there are a around six tables decked out in Alpine style. The benefit of this is that, even if you don't order the raclette, you can stare transfixed at someone else's order as a hunk of cheese melts at their table. Fondues, tartiflettes, raclettes and cheese boards make up the mainstay of the menu. We opted for the Munster Pan*é* and L'assiette de L'Etable to start things off. The Munster Pan*é* was just gorgeous. Each mouthful of the lightly-breadcrumbed Munster made me sigh contentedly, and the Bayonne ham and walnuts set the cheese off perfectly. L'assiette de L'Etable (3 cheeses on toast, served with a sizeable salad and sliced ham) went down brilliantly too, with each cheese packing variable levels of punch on the taste buds.
We deliberated a while over our main course, but decided (as we were here for the cheese first and foremost) on the Cloche à Fromage: 12 different cheeses, all of them unpasteurised and some of them blue. The owner, *Julien* Ledogar talked us knowledgeably and lovingly through the cheeses, pointing out his favourites, and advising us which way to work through the platter. We began as advised, with the goats' cheeses, dipped into some sheep's cheese and sliced through the fresh cheeses before hitting the mountain cheeses and finally the blue cheese. Highlights were a very gutsy sheep's cheese, which brought out the fruity flavours in our wine fantastically, the Brillat-Savarin which tasted of butter and was pure heaven, and the Roquefort: bold, creamy and very definitely blue. Lara eyed up the nose of the blue-veined slab of cheese: "at least I'll die happy!", she said beaming at it. Thankfully it rendered her speechless for all the right reasons, and not because she couldn't breathe. It was a gorgeous mouthful - smooth with a tart burn on the tongue, and brilliantly paired with a scoop of quince jelly. Our beautiful platter of cheeses came with a chopping board full of dried fruits, breads, grapes, nuts and a smattering of chilli & pepper paste (fiery and lovely), quince jelly and jams.
Dessert followed in the shape of Tarte Tatin au Ch*è*vre and Triolet de Glaces au Fromage (yes, you heard right - cheese ice-cream). The Tarte Tatin was delicious, but by the time dessert came around I have to confess that I wasn't really craving the goat's cheese that topped it. The flavour pairings worked, but I had reached my fromage limit. My die-hard dining partner had reached nowhere near her cheese limit however, and wolfed down scoops of white cheese ice-cream and goat's cheese ice-cream. They tasted suitably sweet with a cheesey tang, but the blue-cheese ice-cream seemed a step too far with its very savoury flavour and mousse-like texture.
If you love your cheese, this is the place to come and indulge. You don't need to be a cheese snob, or a cheese connoisseur - Julien who confessed he "lives for cheese" will fill you in on anything you're curious about. We asked him what his dreams were like as a cheese lover: "I don't get crazy dreams now - I'm used to eating lots of cheese!" he grinned. You could certainly get used to L'art du Fromage.
For more information about cheese, cheese and well...more cheese at L'art du Fromage, please visit: http://artdufromage.co.uk/restaurant.htm. Prices for main dishes range from £6.40 - £24.70 per person.
**Please note:** If you do order the Cloche à Fromage, don't expect to be able to move for an hour or so afterwards!
**Reviewed by:** Helenka Bednar