Thursday, October 6, 2011

Androuet, 5th October

Androuet made it onto my list in part thanks to a place called The Bourgeois Pig in New York. Before that I had never tried fondue and hadn't really wanted to. But I went there, had this delicious melted cheese creation and when I moved back to London, hoped to find somewhere similar. I haven't quite done that yet, but Androuet has charmed me anyway.

I found it while cutting across Spitalfields one day. The aroma of cheese wafted through the air and drew me closer, like a cartoon character being pulled along by tendrils of perfume. It was the cheese shop, and then I noticed that there was a restaurant attached to it that did fondue and raclette. Someone was eating raclette at that very moment. On the list it went. And last night I had the chance to try it with some of my friends.

The place is very, very small. The majority of the seating is outside so if it's not a nice day, you're going to suffer. Luckily last night was quite balmy. I hadn't been able to get through to the restaurant to secure a table so I decided to stop in in person and it's a good thing I did as most of the tables were booked up already. The owner/manager had one area where he said we could sit though. I then turned up again about 4 hours later, on my own as all my friends were running late and he greeted me by name. When I said my friends might not get there for another half an hour, assured me that was fine.  He seated me and I ordered a glass of Viognier to pass the time. I resisted the temptation to order some parmesan and cardamom crisps, even though I am sure they would have made my wait even more enjoyable.

None of my companions were all that familiar with Spitalfields and required some careful direction to get them to the right place. But we soon had the full complement of us sitting at the table. We were all there for one thing and one thing only. Ok, if you include wine, two things. But the main thing was cheese. Androuet does have a menu with other things on it such as salads and lamb chops and whatever. I barely glanced at it while I tried to choose between the fondue (comte and emmenthal), the raclette or the tartiflette. I decided I had to go full on cheese and rule out the tartiflette. Two of my friends ordered this. Alison was happy to have raclette so I had the fondue, ensuring we all more or less had something different. I think I made the right choice. The tartiflette looked delicious but it was, in all honesty, tiny. It came in its individual dish, whereas I was expecting, once two people had ordered it, that it would come in a dish from which they would share it. I had my own cauldron of fondue which came with gerkins, some charcuterie, some bread, and some other crudites type stuff. Alison's raclette came with similar, only without the meat (silly half veggie that she is) but with potatoes. 

I have no complaints about my fondue whatsoever. Melted cheese = yum. I can only say a very similar thing about Alison's raclette. The others' tartiflettes were too small to warrant sharing so I can't speak personally about them but they said it was good. Just too small. My friend Chris who was there, ordered some extra bread and that did take a while to come. I probably wouldn't have noticed but his appetite clearly wasn't sated so he did and wasn't very happy about it. We shared a bottle of the wine they recommend to go with the fondue. And it was so reasonably priced! I instantly expected their recommendation to be a dearer bottle, but it was only £15. Our cheese dishes were £12 each so the whole thing came to about £20 including tip.

If you're ever in NY and want some gooey cheese then the Bourgeois Pig will knock your socks off - the sheer range of fondues they have is ridiculous. But if you're in London and want a good place for it, head down to Androuet. It's got no frills, honest charm.

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