Hailed “the best cheeseboard in Marylebone, and possible in all of London” by Time Out magazine, La Fromagerie, tucked away along a quiet side street in Marylebone Village, has been seducing cheese-lovers since it first opened more than 20 years ago. La Fromagerie was founded by cheese enthusiast Patricia Michelson, who opened the first bijou shop in Highbury in 1992 and later set up the second larger shop-cum-deli-cum-tasting room-cum-café in Marylebone. With a wealth of knowledge about this dairy delight – which she has used to write three books on the subject – Patricia has educated thousands of Londoners about how to select, taste and enjoy fantastic cheese.
La Fromagerie deserves its acclaim. The farmhouse-style Marylebone shop is packed floor to ceiling with carefully selected produce. Shelves are brimming with preserves and pâtés, sauces and pasta, fruits and vegetables, yeast-scented loaves and organic wines. And then there’s the cheese room. Behind a sliding wood and glass panel door is a chilled cheese-filled room, an oversized fridge filled with cheeses of all shapes, sizes and colours, prettily arranged across marble and wooden surfaces lined with straw. The pungent, yet sweet aroma is mesmerising.
The left side of the shop is dedicated to the café. The cosy room is a claustrophobic’s nightmare, but I found the intimacy of the space charming. Solid dark wooden benches allow for maximum use of space and continue the farmhouse feel.
Although a French café, La Fromagerie selects cheeses from across Europe. Choose between France, Italy and Britain and Ireland (£8.95 for a S/M board, ideal for one person). You can also choose between two suggested wine pairings (£6-12 per glass) for each (or occasionally a suggested ale or beer). The menu lists tasting notes for each cheese, however, it is worth asking you waiter/waitress for advice before making a selection. I would like to think I know a little about different cheeses, but I was completely bemused by the lists in front of me.
The French board had a well-rounded assortment of soft, hard and blue cheeses, made from cow’s milk, ewe’s and goat’s. More of a red wine drinkers in winter, I paired the cheeseboard with the suggested red, a 2012 Piaugier Sablet Rouge from Côtes-du-Rhone. Intensely purple-red in colour, the wine was lighter that expected in flavour with a hint of subtle tannins and a well-rounded flavour of fruits, spice and pepper.
I enjoy both mild and pungent cheeses, but have a particular love of goat’s cheese – there’s something addictive about its unusual flavour. The selected goat’s cheese for the French board was a Lingot Geant Poitou-Charentes. It has a wonderful floral undertone and was texturally interesting with a flakey, yet creamy centre and thick ashen rind. The mild and luxuriously creamy blue ewe’s milk Roquefort was beautiful eaten with the delicious ripe figs that accompanied the platter. The second ewe’s cheese was a Lou-Bren from Avignon, a hard cheese with a rich, fruity and slightly sharp flavour. The creamy Savoie cow’s milk cheese was a crowd-pleaser, with an irresistible creamy and bouncy pâté. There was, however, one cheese amongst the selection that I could not bear: the Olivet. This brie-style cow’s milk cheese has a distinctive earthy and bitter flavour that I did not find agreeable. I washed my mouth out rather quickly with a large glug of wine.
Final word: I won’t disagree with Time Out – this is the best cheeseboard I have sampled in London to date. Whether you like every cheese on the board or find one totally hideous, the monthly selections will keep you on your toes and a cheese you have never heard of before may well become your new favourite. La Fromagerie is also a great place to take a date – the cheeseboard provides a talking point to get the conversation going.
The cheese board: 10/10
The wine: 10/10
2-6 Moxton Street,
T: 020 7935 0341
Open 8:00am-19:30pm (Mon-Fri); 9:00am-19:00pm (Sat); 10:00am-18:00pm (Sun)