There's been a sharp rise in cheesemaking in London in recent years.
This ranges from students experimenting with recipes for paneer and labneh in their bedsits, to small commercial enterprises making and selling cheese. Cheesemaking kits have become widely available too.
We’ve already told you about Mexican cheeses made by Gringa Dairy under the railway arches in Peckham, but there are other London cheesemakers too. Bermondsey’s Kappacasein, Tottenham’s Wildes Cheese and Blackwoods, based in Brockley, all make unique cheeses with a story to tell. A relative newcomer is Cypriot-English Kupros Dairy near Enfield, which specialises in sheep’s milk cheese.
Here we’ve rounded up London’s best cheesemongers, plus cheese restaurants, menus, street food stalls, trolleys and cheeseboards. We’ll tell you about where you can learn to make cheese, too, and the one dairy (currently) that you can visit.
London’s cheese shops are among the best in the world. Not only do they sell carefully sourced British and European cheeses, but also delicious pickles, chutneys, crackers, fresh breads, wines and, often, speciality produce. They’re great places of conviviality too, encouraging you to taste, learn and share. Additionally, the staff are among the most knowledgeable and passionate foodies that we’ve ever encountered — you really do need to be a curd nerd to work in this industry.
Revered cheese expert Patricia Michelson’s famous shops in Marylebone and Highbury boast walk-in cheese rooms and maturing cellars.
From a vast selection of farmhouse cheeses from around UK, Europe and America, try unpasteurised goat’s milk chilcote from Staffordshire; or rollright — a cow's milk cheese from Oxfordshire that has a salmon-pink rind and a smooth texture.
Both shops have cafes that serve a daily-changing menu of cheese dishes, including perfectly balanced cheeseboards. They also host excellent events, including tastings of seasonal cheeses, talks, and cheese suppers. The Marylebone branch is our favourite place to buy hard-to-find ingredients, such as fennel pollen, French violet syrup and rare heirloom beans.
La Fromagerie, 2-6 Moxon Street, Marylebone W1U 4EW. Other branch is in Highbury
Paxton & Whitfield
Established for more than 200 years, the Jermyn Street branch of Paxton & Whitfield is one of London’s most iconic shops. It’s beloved of both royalty and fromage-forward Londoners, who’ve made their English stilton, cave-aged cheddar and brie runaway bestsellers.
If you’re feeling more adventurous, though, there’s delicious eve — a goat’s milk cheese from the West Country that’s washed with cider brandy and wrapped in a vine leaf, and ash-and-sea-salt-coated pyramid-shaped cerney.
There’s a particularly wonderful selection of cheese hampers and accessories, including fondue sets and raclette grills. Since we told you about their Chelsea pop-up, it's moved a few doors down to 22 Cale Street and become permanent.
Paxton & Whitfield, 93 Jermyn Street, SW1Y 6JE. Other London branch is in Chelsea
We’ve already told you about Rhuaridh Buchanan’s cosy Marble Arch shop in some detail — but it has since won ‘Cheese Counter of the Year 2015-16’ at the World Cheese Awards.
This shop's notable because, although they have a large selection, they only display around 25 cheeses so as to not overwhelm customers. They buy off-the-beaten-track varieties from around UK and Europe and age them in temperature-controlled maturing rooms in their cellar.
They’ve also launched a cheese school where you can learn about hard, soft, blue and washed rind cheeses; plus popular masterclasses in matching cheeses with wines, beers and champagnes. There’s a small cafe area that serves cheese platters and toasties.
Buchannan’s Cheesemonger, 5A Porchester Place, W2 2BS
Neal’s Yard Dairy
Renowned cheese personality Randolph Hodgson’s cheese shops sell a regularly-changing selection of British and Irish cheeses from around 40 artisan producers.
There’s a particularly strong choice of classics such as cotherstone, Isle of Mull cheddar and crozier blue.
Tasting is encouraged; and regular cheesy events are also held, including seminars on the science of taste, fermentation, and cheese and champagne pairing.
Neal’s Yard Dairy, 17 Shorts Gardens, Covent Garden WC2H 9AT. Other branches are in Spa Terminus and Borough Market
La Cave A Fromage
We told you about the newer Notting Hill branch a couple of years ago — but the original South Kensington one has been voted among the world’s 10 best cheese shops by the Daily Telegraph recently.
Opened nearly 10 years ago by Eric Charriaux and Amnon Paldi, the compact store sells mostly French and British cheeses. Try their sweet, smoky tomme brulee or unctuous chevrotin des aravis, or enjoy one of the reasonably priced cheeses platters in their small seating area.
They also mature a number of cheeses, such as silver award-winning semi-hard British cheese cornerstone. They host a huge variety of events, including tastings of seasonal and speciality cheeses, and cheese and wine matching.
La Cave A Fromage Kensington, 24-25 Cromwell Place, SW7 2LD. Other London branch is in Notting Hill
Also worth noting…
This Leadenhall Market cheesemonger sources cheeses from around Britain and Europe, has a lovely cheese cafe, and runs cheese 'tours' (tastings) and other events such as excellent cheese walks around the City.
A tiny cheesemonger in Camden Passage, this relative newcomer sells British and international artisanal cheeses and hot cheese toasties. At the weekends, you can sit down for a cheeseboard and a glass of wine in their first floor Parlour.
This buzzy Hampton Village shop sells a massive range of traditionally made cheeses, including organic, vegetarian, buffalo milk, Dutch, Norwegian, Swiss and Greek varieties. They’re paired with wines from small producers; and they also host tutored tastings.
Established for over 20 years, this Battersea shop sells well-sourced British, French, Italian and Spanish cheeses.
This 25 year old Victoria shop sells an astonishing range of over 500 cheeses from around Europe, mostly UK and France.
Selling over 150 artisan cheeses, this popular shop also hosts events where cheese is matched with wine, beer or tea.
This unique cheese stall at the Spa Terminus sells Swiss cheeses such as sousbois and vacherin mont d’or; plus ready-grated mixes for making fondue.
Cheese Block, 69 Lordship Lane, Dulwich SE22 8EP.
You’ll have difficulty choosing from the huge selection of cheeses at this East Dulwich shop, but you can taste before you buy.
Cheese restaurants and street food
Forget burgers and baozi: good old-fashioned macaroni cheese is the fastest-growing restaurant item on UK menus, according to one report. Here we’ve highlighted the best cheese restaurants to eat not only macaroni cheese, but also fondues, raclettes, tartiflettes, baked cheeses, toasties, and poutines to your heart’s content.
This respected Parisian cheesemonger and 'cheese bar' in Spitalfields Market sells Paxton & Whitfield's English cheeses and imported French ones. On the bar's menu you’ll find delicious fondues, raclettes, cheese boards, freshly made cheese-stuffed pastas, cheese baguettes, cheesecakes — and even cheese ice cream.
Androuet, Old Spitalfields Market, 107b Commercial Street, E1 6BG
Champagne + Fromage
Combining two of our favourite things, this shop-bistro serves a rustic menu of French soft and hard cheeses paired with grower champagnes. The brand is a marriage of two different companies, FrenchBubbles and Une Normande a Londres, each specialising in artisan fizz and fromage from small producers.
Choose from cheeseboards, tartines, fondues, tartiflettes, oven-baked cheeses, quiches, and cheese salads with champagne dressings. The Covent Garden branch’s champagne bar also runs bubbles-and-cheese events.
Champagne + Fromage, 22 Wellington Street, Covent Garden WC2E 7DD. Other branches are in Brixton and Greenwich
Believed to be the world’s first mozzarella bar, this casual Neapolitan chain has several branches around the world. Their entire menu is based on Mozzarella di Bufala Campana; and this top-quality water buffalo milk cheese is sourced from approved farms and dairies in southern Italy.
Three varieties are used: delicate, intense and smoked, all of which have been produced up to 48 hours before being served. They’re paired with small plates, offered in a degustation tasting menu, and added to pizzas, pastas, soups, salads and cheesecakes.
The Slow Food-partnered restaurant is notable for its large number of vegetarian dishes.
Obica, 96 Draycott Avenue, South Kensington SW3 3AD. Other London branches are in Charlotte Street, Poland Street and Canary Wharf
London’s oldest Swiss restaurant, this 40-odd year old classic is THE place to go to if you fancy a fondue. There’s a great variety to choose from; plus raclettes and other traditional cheese dishes such as spaetzle pasta, gratins, and a Swiss cheese platter.
St Moritz, 161 Wardour Street, W1F 8WJ
Also worth noting…
This smart Parisian bistro in Chiswick is best known for its sumptuous baked vacherin, available in season from September-March. The arrival of the cheese in autumn is celebrated with a seven-course menu that you don’t want to miss. There are also several French cheese dishes and an enticing cheeseboard on its regular menu.
Both branches (Farringdon and London Bridge) of this South African steak and wine restaurant takes cheese very seriously. They offer a number of cheese boards with a choice of 40 seasonal cheeses from Britain, France, Italy, Spain and Switzerland; plus walk-in cheese rooms for a full-on ‘cheese experience’.
Soho’s American-style grilled cheese sandwich shop has a wonderful selection, including breakfast melts, sweet varieties, and essential sides such as truffle cheesy fries.
Specialising in grilled cheese sandwiches, this popular truck is always in demand at UK and international festivals. It can be found at Maltby Street at weekends, and at their Chesham Arms residency in Hackney during the week. They use British cheeses for imaginative sandwiches such as goat’s cheese, honey, walnuts and rosemary butter; plus 'fondue fries' and stilton and dark chocolate brownies. They’re opening a new Cheese Bar at the Deptford Market Yard at the end of April 2016.
Another street food joint specialising in cheese toasties, you’ll find GMC in Leather Lane and several other venues around London. The tempting menu includes the likes of hard and cream cheeses with apricot-jalapeno relish and crispy bacon on organic sourdough.
These canny folks at the Camden Lock market have based their entire menu on one of London’s most popular dishes: mac and cheese. You’ll find it sprinkled with Cajun spices, drizzled with truffle oil or punctuated with fire-roasted peppers, and topped with parmesan, thyme and sourdough crumbs.
If the trend for poutine — the Canadian dish of cheese curds with chips and gravy — has passed you by, here’s your chance to sample a good version. The stall can be found in Brick Lane Market on Sundays, and many other locations during the week.
Cheese trolleys and cheeseboards
Sadly, the cheese trolley — once ubiquitous in smart British and French restaurants — is now an endangered species. But we’ve tracked down a few places where you can still tuck into your fromage with a sense of ceremony, as well as restaurants with exceptional cheeseboards.
You’ll find classic and contemporary cheese trolleys at Michelin-starred The Square, smart restaurants The Orrery and The Glasshouse, and Jason Atherton’s City Social. Alain Ducasse at The Dorchester offers both an English stilton trolley and a French cheese board.
There's no shortage of tutored cheese tastings and cheese and wine pairing evenings. Here we’ve highlighted courses where you can learn how to make your own cheese.
Held at their micro dairy in Tottenham, this esteemed London cheesemaker gives a rare chance to learn directly from professionals who make cheese. There are acclaimed one-day (£150) and evening (£40) courses, with a mixture of theory and practice. During the full-day course, you’ll learn how to make three varieties of cheese and take home cheese-making ingredients.
Wildes Cheese, The Micro Dairy, Units 9 and 10 Frontier Works, 33 Queen Street, Tottenham, N17 8JA
Cutting The Curd
Cheese professional Louise Talbot's four-hour class is a mixture of demonstration and hands-on experience. For £65, you’ll learn to make halloumi, mozzarella, mascarpone and butter using raw milk and vegetarian rennet. The theory behind cheese making is explained; and cheese-making kits are available to purchase.
Cutting The Curd, St Mary’s Church Polygon, St Mary’s Road, Ealing, W5 5RH
Ann’s Smart School of Cookery
Owned by former Masterchef contestant Ann Hood, this casual, relaxed cookery school covers a lot of ground during its four-hour cheesemaking class. For £139 you’ll learn how to make mozzarella, ricotta, soft cheese with chives and chilli, goat’s cheese, paneer, bread made from whey, and pear and walnut chutney.
You’ll also become well-versed in taking the next step of making hard cheeses.
Ann’s Smart School of Cookery, Unit K, Ivory House, St Katherine’s Dock, E1W 1BP
Cheese dairy: Kappacasein
Wildes Cheese offers you a chance to look around when you sign up for a class; and you can visit Gringa Dairy by appointment. But to the best of our knowledge, there’s currently only one dairy that allows free and easy access.
This much-loved cheesemaker gives a rare opportunity to visit a London cheese dairy. It’s located at the Spa Terminus, where they make cheeses from raw, organic cow’s milk collected from the Common Work organic farm in Kent. You can pop in and have a look around on Saturday mornings, and taste and buy distinctly local cheeses such as Bermondsey friar and spa lactic.
At their stall in nearby Borough Market, they sell legendary cheese toasties — one of the capital’s most iconic dishes that’s a firm favourite of food writers, chefs and celebrities. You can find out more about it here; and even get the owner Bill Oglethorpe ‘s recipe if you fancy making it yourself.
Kappacasein, 1 Voyager Industrial Estate, SE16 4RP