It’s too long since I haven’t been (as the French say) to La Fromagerie in Marylebone. Patricia Michelson’s emporium of gastro delights has expanded into next door on Moxon Street to make a much more integrated space. The question of what to have for dinner tonight begins to be solved as you enter between crates of plump pink-tinged lettuces, Heirloom tomatoes and Sicilian lemons. With some charcuterie or terrine with Pain Poilane toast, perhaps with a tub of homemade céleri-remoulade on the side. Or maybe some ravioli from the chiller, well filled with butternut squash, beurre noisette, sage and marscarpone.
Patricia’s passion for cheese (mainly French but not exclusively) is legendary. She is the curator and saviour of many a restaurant cheeseboard, as well as having two retail outlets with maturing cellars and designated cheese rooms. The care and attention given to serving every cheese in perfect condition is extraordinary, and the earthy farmyard smells that hit you on entering the cheese room are compelling. As is the fact it seems that, to work in one you have to be good looking, male and with a devastating French accent.
There is now a second part to the café in Marylebone which makes the chance of getting a seat more likely, and therefore worth the detour. From a well-balanced light lunch menu I chose Braised castelluccio lentils with baby vine tomatoes and goats curd. This despite the fact that I already had three baby goat cheeses impeccably wrapped for dinner in a bag by my side. It arrived at just the right temperature for the goats curd to melt gently in the centre. I finished with an exquisite tasting green tea, infused with violets from the Toulouse area, a place which features in the shop in different formats.
There is absolutely no pandering to trendy suppliers. The excellent teas from Robert Wilson have been served here as long as I can remember, and the coffee comes from Le Piantagioni de Caffe, a highly regarded Italian supplier and roaster just outside Florence. You can have complete faith that everything sold will have passed Patricia’s rigorous standards.
Businesses have to be continually refreshed to flourish, particularly in the food industry. I was pleased to hear that there were no expansion plans for a designated production kitchen to service the demand for catering for parties and receptions. Instead growth was being channelled into La Fromagerie’s USP, providing better services as a cheese supplier.
However, As Patricia disappeared into the back to get immersed into a large outside catering order, my only thought was “I wish I was going to that party”.
2-6 Moxon Street
London W1U 4EW
Tel: 020 7935 0341
30 Highbury Park
London N5 2AA
Tel: 020 7359 7440