Last week we had the opportunity to visit a place quite unique in London. It was in Camden of all places (actually when you think about it, Camden is the place for the unique), in a little restaurant in Stables Market. I’m talking about the Cheese Bar, almost opposite Amy Winehouse’s statue. Today I’m going to talk to you about my whole experience there and if dining at the Cheese Bar is worth it.
From a first glance, the Cheese Bar is not a traditional date-type restaurant. There are no booths, no (relative) privacy; only a few tables outside and inside there is only counter and high-top seating. That’s basically seating around the bar and in high tables, next to the bar. However the atmosphere is relaxed and friendly and the restaurant is ideal for people-watching (yes, I am weird like that! I can also mention that when we were there, the couple opposite us where celebrating the one party’s birthday…). When I visited the Cheese Bar with my boyfriend, I had already made a reservation for two and it was quite busy when we arrived, so I’d suggest on reserving your space if you want to visit during the weekend.
So we arrived there safely – on a side note, it is not a good idea to walk with heeled sandals on the cobblestones of Stables Market! I had to hang on for dear life on my boyfriend’s arm! – and were seated quickly. After that our server with the menus arrived and we took a while to (browse) and decide, with reason of course. On the left from our seats, there was a fridge full of cheeses and white wine, which was the reason I took so long to decide. I have to say though that the actual menu was short (only two pages), but quite pleasing graphically (I am a geek like that).
What we selected? A plate with five cheese puffs (which are mini cheese puff pastry pies, sprinkled with – what else? – more cheese), accompanied with mayfield cream for starter to share, a chicken poutine for me and a grilled cheese sandwich along with some chips for my boyfriend. Because we didn’t want to drink anything alcoholic, I chose diet coke and my boyfriend regular coca-cola. It was actually refreshing and for probably the first time ever I didn’t mind the slice of lemon in my glass!
The cheese puff were delicious in my opinion and I completely understand (and wholeheartedly agree with) the term “addictive” that is used to describe them! And the cream was perfect for them – not too heavy, not too light. After that, our mains, along with a plate of chips for my boyfriend, arrived. To be honest, I found it difficult to choose between the poutine and the mac and cheese that were in the menu, but am I glad that I ordered the former! I’ve never tasted a poutine before and I am so very thankful for the Canadians for creating that! Cooked in chicken gravy, the skin-on fries and cheese on top were yummy. Overall, it was a nice-sized portion and quite filling at that!
My boyfriend’s Cropwell Bishop Stilton grilled sandwich with bacon and pear chutney was also well-cooked and satisfying; so much that he couldn’t even finish his plate of chips! I took a bite out of his and I liked it and I cannot bear chutney at all! Not really a favourite of mine! He liked it though. The bacon was tasty (and not fried to an inch of its life!), while the combination of chutney, bacon and cheese was great. However he felt that the cheese was overwhelming and covering everything else, but as he explained later, it was his fault, as naturally stilton has a strong smell and taste, and he could have picked a different grilled sandwich.
The good thing with the Cheese Bar is that every cheese they have is made in Britain! I find this incredibly fascinating, as locally-sourced produce is better for the local economy and for supporting small businesses around the UK. The cheese in my boyfriend’s dish for example was from Cropwell Stilton, a small family cheese-maker business in Nottingham, while the cheese in my poutine was from a farm in Exeter. To be frank, I prefer how traceable these supply chains are and how beneficial they are for the whole British economy. I admire any kind of business, supporting other small (and large) businesses, so this is why I feel it is important for us consumers to support them in turn.
I think maybe I was pre-destined to like the Cheese Bar, because – well – it caters to the cheese-loving side of me. Or maybe it was because of all the locally-sourced cheese. It wasn’t the great food or the casual and relaxed atmosphere and mood that did it for me though. It may not be the most romantic restaurant or having a soothing ambiance; however the timely service, the locally-sourced products on offer and their excellent quality, as well as the value-for-money mentality they have, more than make up for them. If you are looking for something different, do try the Cheese Bar (and I didn’t even try their fondue!).
Till next time,