Thursday, December 20, 2007

St Moritz - gloriously cheesy

As someone who once managed to put on half a stone on a four-day "skiing" break in the French Alps, I have to admit to impartiality - I love fondue. And as St Moritz is the only place I know of in central London that serve fondue, I am also rather fond of St Moritz. It's located in the heart of Soho, in a small, old half-timbered house done up to look like a Swiss chalet. There's one of those long horn things on the wall, and framed postcards advertising Swiss cheese. The waitresses are dressed in Swiss national costume and the plates have pictures of cute little cows chewing on oversized daisies. Sure, it's kitsch, and it's not going to win any contemporary style awards. But to my mind, cosy and comfortable often beats stylish.
The menu includes raclette as a starter, and other Swiss specialities such as rosti. For me though, it had to be fondue. The selection includes a meat one, and a Chinese one (I guess a version of the fiery Sizchuanese hotpot), but we went for the "forestiere" - a heaven-made combination of mushrooms and cheese. I was very pleasantly surprised by the mushrooms - there lots of them, and of the proper wild, non-dried variety. The dish smelled of autumn. It came with a basket of bread, and we order a side of new potatoes for dipping as well (£3.50). If you want to pretend that you are being healthy you can also dip in seasonal vegetables. The fondue was huge and we struggled to finish it (we did of course, what kind of a cheese fiend would I be otherwise!). The wine menu is interesting. They have a large selection of whites, reds, roses and bubbles -- but they are all Swiss, as is the only beer on offer. We opted for Merlot rose from the Ticino canton (£20.95), which proves refreshingly crisp and dry for a rose, and nicely cuts through the richness of the cheese. Licking the last bits of cheese off my fork, I wished I could eat fondue every day. But luckily for Britain's obesity statistics I don't -- yet.
St Moritz, 161 Wardour Street, Soho, W1V 3TA; Tel: 020 7734 3324; Tube: Tottenham Court Road;

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