There are a few dates of unparalleled significance carefully earmarked in my (foodie) diary, chief among them 23 March 2017.
The day having finally dawned on me, it was with giddy excitement that I headed over to The Cheese Bar, open at last in Camden Stables to offer a haven to all those kindred souls living by one simple principle – cheese is all you really need.
Spinning-off from the much extolled Cheese Truck, the all-day eatery is dedicated to championing artisan British cheesemakers, particularly urban producers within the M25 such as Peckham’s Gringa Dairy.
The different varieties are introduced on arrival, with a Cheese Dictionary of sorts spelled out on the giant white board running the side-length of the room. It’s really quite educational, if you aren’t all too familiar with Cornish Yarg or Queso Chihuahua! The cheeses are showcased in the the display fridges at the far end and there is a focus on craft beers too, available on tap.
Heeding the advice of the lactose-heavy menu, we ordered quite a few dishes to share and prepared to get messy. The #foodporn potential aside, the smart marble-topped tables deftly adding to the inexhaustible Instagram-appeal of the evening…
Mozzarella sticks with marinara for dipping, were a narcotic way to start…
… The scrummy breaded skin giving way too uncannily stringy innards.
With strength in numbers, we made quick work of all that swiftly followed.
Silky-smooth, melted triple-cheese served with rustic flatbread and tart chutney, the baked Bix was every bit the high-level pleasure it promised to be…
Pasta arrived in the form of Rotelle, resembling little wheels with spokes. This was a dish busy with four different types of cheeses blended creamily together, including Lincolnshire and Lancashire with a beautifully blackened crust of Old Winchester (a worthy substitute to Parmigiano Reggiano) for a sharp finish!
Intrepidly restorative, it was everything you’d want of comfort food on a typically blustery evening in London. It was a similar story with our grilled cheese, an unpretentious devilishly deep-fried toastie oozing Queso Chihuahua. That’s a Mexican melting cheese – surprisingly both creamy and cheesy, it’s often added as a foil to the fiery undertone of Mexican food, such as from the jalapeños in this case.
Even the creamed spinach was heaven-bound, a moreish crunch added from Parmesan-like crisps which were fashioned from Sparkenhoe’s Red Leicester cheese.
Finding it all too easy bein’ cheesy by this point, we adventurously rounded things off with a blue ice cream sundae.
A flavour bomb of sweet and savoury dimensions, the umami-rich notes were rather lusciously laced with quince, honey and crisp shards of honeycomb… I have to confess that I don’t usually have a taste for blue cheese, but this was indomitably delicious!
The entire evening was a whole lot of fun to boot and it was impossible not to have left in a cheerful mood, fuelled by the irrefutably winsome combination of cheese and carbs.
Of course it also went to prove what I’d already suspected… That almost anything is better with cheese. Anything.
Cheese Bar, Units 93 and 94 Camden Market, North Yard, Chalk Farm Road, NW1 8AH.
Hungry for more? Here’s my running round-up of other new and noteworthy openings in 2017.