Saturday, 20 January 2018

L'Art Du Fromage - Leeds City Centre

When I worked in Leeds city centre I used to walk past a French tearoom called Le Chalet every single day, I often used to think "I should really nip in and check this place out", but alas it never happened (as so many places in Leeds, a girl only has so much time and money).

I was intrigued by their new concept and venture, a restaurant open only on a week and focusing on one ingredient. Cheese. 

There has been a hole in the city centre cheesy food scene since Homage to Fromage sadly ended their residency up near the arena. So, I was excited to hear some cheesy goodness was heading back in to the people of the city centre's lives. 

L'art du Fromage focusing on two different ways of eating cheese, fondue and raclette. I wasn't party to the fondue explosion of the 80's (probably not the ideal food to serve a toddler) but I have had my fair share every now and again when it raises it's head. My first raclette experience was just over a year ago when Ham and Friends opened in the Grand Arcade. 

I won't explain fondue as I'm sure you're fully clued up (if not just give it a quick Google), raclette might not be as familiar to people so let me explain. Raclette is a Swiss cheese that's created in a large wheel as is almost solely used for melting. You essentially heat up the cheese and then scrape it off on to a variety of potatoes, meats, vegetables and pickles. In other words, heaven on a plate. 

Raclette can be served melted straight from the wheel of cheese and scraped on to your plate or, as it is served at L'Art du Fromage, it can bet melted on a little raclette for you to melt and scrape at your own place. 

We visited on their third weekend of opening and I was surprised by how busy it was. By 7.30pm this little tearoom on Park Row was full. In the evening the lights are brought down low and there is candle light, a romantic cheese fest, get your Valentine's weekend bookings in before it's too late.

Snippet of the starter - the low level light isn't great for taking pictures if you haven't got a tripod with you. 

We decided to order just one starter to share between us, knowing that I was about to be overloaded with cheese I didn't want to out cheese myself with the first course. We ordered prosciutto wrapped apples with blue cheese. I love this combination of sweet, salty and cheesy chalky (I don't know how else to describe blue cheese). D said he wished we had ordered one each but he later changed his mind after the main course...

Obviously we went for the raclette option, it was a popular option in the restaurant and I only saw one table with fondue (a large party). 

Once the raclette arrives the table gets a little busy. We had to have a bit of a reshuffle and our water took a back seat on the windowsill (priorities). The raclette heater (small grill heated by tealights) had arrived with our starter to give a good chance to heat before our mains arrived.

A large board is given with an array of meats, the raclette cheese, salad and grapes. Accompanying this is a large serving of potatoes, sauted vegetables (additional option) and bread. I skipped the bread not wanting to waste valuable stomach space for cheese and I loaded vegetables, charcuterie and potatoes on to my plate and then began to pour the cheese on top.

In a mission to take a good picture in low level light I accidentally created the same effect as waterfall photography, it gives you a better perspective of the dripping cheese, I guess? 

It was fun to try varying combinations whilst washing it down with a rather nice merlot. This is literally one of my dream meals and is very similar to our Christmas Eve feast where we normally have such an array of foods but instead of raclette with have an oven baked camembert.

It might not be a meal you have before you hit the town for a night of dancing, but if you're taking life a little slower it's a good place to begin your night before moving on to other places in Leeds city centre that will serve you a good wine or two. 

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