Androuet

ELLE tries cheese heaven Androuet in Spitalfields Market, East London

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The House of Androuet started life in a Parisian backstreet in 1909, and has now set up a successful home in East London. These days it is a quaint, somewhat pungent cheese shop on the edges of Spitalfields Market where we'd hazard most vintage wonder-find hunters walk past without stopping. However, the cheese fanatics among them will be lured by the nostrils – like a cartoon mouse – to the windows, where massive waxed rounds and wine hampers are ridiculously tempting. From 11am – 7pm, Tuesday to Sunday, this is life for the House of Androuet. But at lunch and dinner times from Tuesday till Sunday, its restaurant alter ego takes precedence.

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If you're willing to sit among shelves of produce and dodge the cheese-purchasing patronage, this is a dining experience that shouldn't be missed. Essentially you're eating dinner (we recommend dinner – the setting suits the more romantic after-hours lighting and a proper occasion) in a stinky shop, but that’s why it works. Maybe you should only go there if you love cheese, but rather like being a pescetarian in a fish & chip shop, there is the rest of the generous menu to even suit the dairy intolerant. Indeed, of the two hero dishes, one is a 29-day aged beef burger with bacon and hand cut chips (£12.90) – the choice of three cheese slices to accompany it is optional. The other is the signature Androuet Fondue (£12.50pp). It’s a golden oldie with a twist. 18-month old Comté and Emmental Grand Cru bubbling in a candlelit cauldron with plates of crudités and chacuteries; this is not the sickly, 1980s milky fondue of your youth, but a thick and deliciously smooth version that I have been dreaming about since my first calorific mouthful. But I properly adore cheese.

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The delight is in the dining experience. It'd be a shame to visit this place and not share your dishes. If you want a burger or a beetroot salmon gravalax for one, you could have it anywhere, but a little shop where you can create your own pick ‘n’ mix cheese board from selections available in the shop, or dunk bread in a Mont d'Or (seasonal baked cheese) is a fromage-lovers’ date destination of the highest order.

If the cheese feast hasn't stretched your stomach to maximum capacity by the dessert course, I recommend the Tonka bean crème brulée. Somehow there is space for more dairy, but I drew the line at Cornish blue and caramelised walnut ice cream.

I wasn't able to approach the Cathedral City in the fridge for a good few days afterwards, but I'm already planning my next visit. Androuet is the ultimate cheese lovers’ paradise and a sweetly Parisian experience in the heart of the City for everyone else.

The ELLE UK Score

Food: 9

Ambience: 9

Service: 6

Value: 8

Style of food: European with heavy French and cheesy leanings

Good for: Special occasion; romantic; unusual

Prices and other details: Androuet

Address: 107b Commercial Street, Old Spitalfields Market, E1 6BG

Phone: 020 7375 3168

Opening times: Tue-Thursday 12pm-3pm & 5pm-11pm; Friday - Sat 12pm – 11pm; Sun 12pm–7pm

Average price per person for two-course meal without wine: £19

Price per bottle of house wine:

White: 2011 Cortese del Piemonte A Monte, Piedmont, Italy - £18.

Red: 2011 Bergerie de la Bastide, Languedoc, France - £19.

Price of glass of house wine: £4.50 (white); £4.80 (red)

Price of bottle of house champagne: NV Royale Reserve Brut by Champagne Philipponnat (Champagne, France) - £46

Price of glass of house champagne: £10.90 (as above)

Private dining: No

Garden/al fresco dining? Yes

Best table? In the window at the back with hardly anyone else seated around you

Bar? Yes

Who goes? East London crowd and City workers

Nearest tube: Liverpool Street or Aldgate East.

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