UPDATE: since we did this fondue London review, Androuet has turned into Abondance, but is still run by the same awesome team. Read on…
Two cheesy posts in a row, as we discover Fondue London at its best, Androuet, now Abondance (2019).
(Cooper did owe me after taking himself off for halloumi fries while I was at work!)
He redeemed himself by connecting with the energetic and passionate owners of Androuet in London, French brothers Alex & Léo Guarneri (also the authors of A Year in Cheese).
Fondue London: cheesy learnings
We have a confession to make – and it’s a little embarrassing. As cheese fans, we’ve never, ever had fondue.
Disgraceful, I know. Coming from a hot climate though (Australia), it’s not something we would have thought first to have. We missed out in Switzerland too, but I’m quite glad we started right here!
When Cooper was chatting to Alex this came up, and he very kindly offered to share the ultimate cheese experience with us, which is how we discovered London’s best fondue at Androuet (now Abondance).
On Friday afternoon, we hopped on a train into Liverpool street, and wandered across to Spitalfields.
Alex’s brother, Léo, had put a little time into his packed schedule (along with running the restaurant and being a chef, this cheese connoisseur also hosts external events, and researches all wine and produce being sold in their business) to show us the ropes.
Passion and produce
Alex and I love what we do and we want people to have a great experience. Good chefs and good people make good ingredients.
What became immediately obvious was how passionate this man is about what he does.
When he said he loves his job, we could tell he means it.
We discovered that we have some things in common – we’re expats who love our wines and cheese, and we believe in doing a job you love, because then it doesn’t matter about the hours you put in. Quite the opposite – we’re all really lucky.
Léo shared with us that they have a good relationship with their suppliers, and they choose to promote produce that comes from people who respect the land. The wine he paired with our first extraordinary cheese, Heublumen (Swiss cheese) was Pipeño blanco from Chile.
While we explored the taste, as instructed (bit of cheese, sip of wine for a rich, delicious flavour experience), Léo explained that the wine is produced as part of the biodynamic movement. That is, biodynamic wines are made using the principles of biodynamic viticulture which takes organic farming to a more spiritual level, with authentic respect for the land and natural cycles of the earth. It also means no pesticides, and in fact the lovely white wine we tried was a little cloudy in colour due to its natural production.
On that note, two things we learnt during this dining experience as the main delights including Androuet’s classic fondue were served: always white wine with cheese dishes, and when enjoying fondue, be sure to keep stirring the pot vigorously as the colour should always be white, not go back to yellow.
We had been tentatively dipping straight into the dish so as to save the cheese, but no, get stuck in. It’s only manners.
The traditional fondue blend we tried at Androuet is made from Comté 12 months and Emmental ‘Grand Cru’ with dry white wines. Comté is from Jura (east of France, at the border of Switzerland) and Emmental is from Savoie in the Alps mountains, south of Jura. The ‘Grand Cru’ is known as the best type of Emmental, Léo has shared with us.
Alex and Léo research their wines and cheese (tough gig, but someone has to do it); to be fair, they obviously do an excellent job. They’ve also grown this business from a market stall at Spitalfields around eight years ago to a gorgeous restaurant dining experience, and cheese and wine store.
We’d encourage you to keep an eye on their social media (Instagram and Facebook) for special events like wine and cheese pairings, weekly restaurant deals and experiences around London like cheese discos.
We’ll definitely be back to Androuet for the food, service and genuine enthusiasm for life (in between serving guests, explaining fondue to us and running the business, Léo was also chatting to his mum on site last night). See you all there!
AbondanceSpitalfields Arts Market, 10 Lamb street, London E1 6EA
The other day I found myself, once again, scrolling aimlessly through social media in a sort of comatose trance when I was suddenly startled by three words: halloumi fries London: deep-fried cheese. mmmm cheese.
Quick somebody pinch me, and why am I only hearing about this now?
An hour later I was on a Tube hurtling towards Camden Markets, specifically Oli Barba‘s.
They are the facilitators of these guilty pleasures: scrumptious deep-fried fingers of halloumi cheese. These crunchy sticks of golden cheesy goodness are warm and gooey on the inside and deliciously crispy on the outside. The fries are drizzled with zaa’tar yoghurt, a tasty sweet glaze, then affectionately sprinkled with mint leaves, pomegranate seeds and chilli flakes.
Curious to see what all the excitement is about halloumi fries?
We were a little worn out on Saturday night so decided to take a wander around our own Dalston neighbourhood to discover a fab deal under £40 for both of us (one of our dining and entertainment challenges of late).
I was being indecisive with regards to what I felt like eating, but knew I wanted to try something different, and maybe even sample dishes, tapas style. I’d been to Evin in Dalston previously for a daytime meeting, but never noticed the extensive menu.
The sharing plates menu outside on Kingsland High Street caught our attention, and when we saw some food being served we were sold…. it looked good!
We decided to give this nice little spot a try, and we were impressed that the staff brought over a delicious plate of bread and dips with an apology that our drinks had been delayed. Happily munching away on this delicious starter, we browsed the large Turkish-inspired menu and settled on a plate of vegetable moussaka and the hot meze selection (cheese roll, falafel, fried courgette, calamari, fried muscles, halloumi cheese, grilled sausage and small meatball, just £11.95).
Long story short, our feast was nothing short of delicious; beautifully presented, and accompanied by a good old fashioned Long Island Iced Tea each, our bill skimmed in at around £35, and we left feeling totally happy with our lot. Highly recommended.
Evin Café, Bar & Restaurant
115 Kingsland High Street
closest tube, Dalston Kingsland or Dalston Junction
Cooper and I have a mission in 2015 – to save money. That, and to discover somewhere new and delicious every Saturday night in London, for under £40.
This past weekend, we decided to revisit one of our fave haunts in Soho; one that we missed the refurb-launch of about a year ago. We were therefore excited to check out the ‘new’ Bar Soho. We’ve always loved this place for its awesome vibe, up-tempo dance/pop soundtrack and diverse, entertaining crowd. Importantly, these guys still have their ridiculously awesome happy hour – 50% off between 5 and 8pm*.
Alcohol is included in this deal, but to score 50% off your food bill, simply register on their website here, grab your exclusive code, and you’re in for one inexpensive yet fun night out. Note, this deal is happening in January 2015, but, Bar Soho are cool in that they always have special deals happening, so sign up to their mailing list or check the website for current options.
*NB. details were accurate at time of publishing, so deals may vary, but this place is great value either way so well worth a visit.
Here’s an example of what you can enjoy for an investment of £20 each:
1 bottle of Sauvignon Blanc
+ two cocktails each (e.g. Long Island Iced Tea, Cosmopolitan, or a champagne cocktail such as a delic Peach Mimosa)
A Great British Beef Burger or Chicken Burger, both with salad and fries
Cheeky tip: Drop the Bar Soho team a line prior to your visit to see if you can reserve a table for your visit. It’s much comfier than hanging out by the bar waiting for a space to open up …
More at barsoho.co.uk, W1D 5JL; nearest tubes are Leicester Square and Piccadilly Circus.
Unearthing a hidden food gem can be one of travel’s most rewarding experiences, especially when it’s not at a Michelin-star price. London is well known for its celebrity dining scene but the city is also home to plenty of gourmet delights without the hefty price tag.
Travel website Wotif.com‘s London-based team has unearthed some of London’s best palate-pleasing eateries to suit any taste and all without breaking the bank, and they’ve shared with us here on TLL!
Hidden food gems of London
Fish & Chips
Recently voted the UK’s best Independent Fish and Chip Restaurant at The National Fish & Chip Awards, Poppies Fish & Chips London is a winning London experience! Savour crispy, golden fish and chips whilst soaking up the uber-hip retro atmosphere. Keep an eye out for free live music at their Camden restaurant.
Spoil yourself with afternoon tea fit for a…mad hatter! ‘Tumble down the rabbit hole’ and experience an afternoon tea with a difference at the Sanderson, in Soho. Named ‘the hippest hotel in the world’ by GQ Magazine, it’s no wonder this 5-star hotel has put its own quirky twist on the quintessentially British tradition of afternoon tea with The Mad Hatter’s Afternoon Tea. With prices from £38 per person, eccentrics can delight in whimsical treats like the ‘strawberries and cream’ home-made marshmallow mushrooms, a ‘tick tock’ Victoria sponge clock and ‘Jelly Wonderland’.
Originally part of the Britannia Brewery, The Britannia in Kensington is an elegant pub oozing history and charm. Serving a delicious range of gastro pub fare, including one of the best burgers around, this rub-a-dub (Cockney rhyming slang for pub) is the perfect place to sit back and enjoy traditional food and good beer!
London’s street food scene has really taken off in the past few years. Who would have thought that tucked away in the city’s markets, food trucks and laneways was some of the most scrumptious food on offer – and at bargain prices!
If you’re venturing to Borough Markets, be sure to go with a hearty appetite because Hobbs Meat Roast serves up a mouth watering pulled pork roll. Sweet, juicy and delicious; this is the perfect treat to accompany a day of shopping.
Whilst the delicious Yum Bun is moving store in early 2014, keep your eye out for the Yum Bus! Serving award winning Vietnamese buns, both carnivores and vegetarians can rejoice with a range of flavoursome fillings available!
If you’re craving some delicious salty goodness be sure to stop by Brick Lane Beigel Bake, London’s oldest and reportedly best bagel shop. Famous for their salt beef bagels, portions are generous and prices, surprisingly cheap. Open 24 hours, this one is a winner at any time of day.
Aussie siblings Nick, Andrew and Laura empathised with the plight of travellers on the hunt for great coffee and opened Taylor Street Baristas to help satisfy caffeine needs with its coffee shops located across London. So start your day with some of the city’s best coffee, paired with a vegemite and cheese English muffins – guaranteed to put a rose on every cheek and a smile on every face!
Hidden down a side street opposite Liverpool Street Station, a neon ‘Sex, Drugs & Bacon Rolls’ sign heralds The Breakfast Club, Spitalfields. The menu is peppered with comfort food and Mexican flavours plus, for late risers, a ‘Late, Late Breakfast’ is available after 5pm. After you’ve polished off your delicious meal, tell the staff you’re ‘here to see The Mayor’ and you will be escorted through to a concealed speakeasy style bar!
The Breakfast Club also has locations in Soho, Angel, Hoxton, Battersea Rise and will be opening a cafe in London Bridge in May (2014).
Google Maps certainly makes it easier to find the foodie hotspots ravenous locals are raving about, but a more enjoyable and hassle-free way to experience London on a plate is on a food tour with an expert! Let your Walk Eat Talk Eat guide lead you on a funny, gastronomic journey through various areas of London. Experience the Great and the Good: Best of British Tourand devour the nation’s most famous foods or treat all of your senses to the vibrant Markets and Meanderings: Camden Tour. All of your food is included; you just need to bring a healthy appetite!
Do you have any London foodie tips to add? We’d love your advice or input – drop us a line in the comments below.
Welcome to Travel Live learn, where we are passionate about living a life full of great adventures. We are Sarah + Cooper: we know life's short, and we're here to encourage you to make the most of it! We have worked in media, communication and creative roles for many years, and have spent over 10 years living and working abroad. Our hottest content topics here are pet friendly travel, house + pet sitting, and designing a life as expats or digital nomads wherever in the world you want to be. Join our community of over 11,000 like-minded adventurers - find out more by signing up for the mailing list and our Facebook Group. Find us on YouTube too. NEW podcast now live: search 'Freedom and Four Paws' on Apple podcasts, Spotify, Google podcasts or your fave podcast service provider.