A: 161 Wardour Street, London, W1V 3TA
T: 020 734 3324
Those of you who know me well will know that a few friends and I are currently busying ourselves eating around in the world, without – a-ha!- leaving London. In what we have grandly termed “The World Food Forum” we get together regularly, eat ‘foreign muck’ until we can barely walk, and the next day share confidential reviews and marks out of ten. (Please, don’t judge). Last night we travelled to “Switzerland” or rather to Soho, and had a cheese-tastic dinner in St. Moritz.
Established in 1974, the St.Moritz is London’s oldest Swiss restaurant and nestles alongside the bars and bustle of Soho’s Wardour Street. Decked out like a chalet – all dark wood, cow bells, alphorns and chintzy gingham curtains – the kitschy decor was warm and welcoming. The air heavy with the smell of melting, bubbling cheese, the tables clustered in the cosy dining room, this felt like a lovely little place.
We ordered two fondues between the four of us. A Neuchâteloise – a pot of melting Gruyère and Emmental with a bowl of chunky bread – and a Chinoise, where we dipped rolled, shaved beef into a pot of aromatic stock. Served with an array of sauces – béarnaise, tartar, herb, beetroot and horseradish that were unbelievably tasty – and a crisp, well-dressed salad, the food was so delicious as to be very nearly indecent. Washed down with bottles of Swiss beer, this was perfect sharing food. Relaxed, slightly silly and terrifically filling, every mouthful – even those that burnt my greedy little mouth – tasted sublime.
The service was friendly and helpful without being overbearing. Our waiter patiently explained what to do and how the Chinoise fondue was made, as none of us had ever had it before. The only major downside was the price. My fellow WFF-ers and I are gluttonous buggers, and due to the prohibitive cost of dinner (the Chinoise was £22 per person!) we were unable to afford any starters or dessert. This had never happened before but perhaps it was a good thing. I was so full I really didn’t need anything else, let alone a chocolate fondue, which we had been eyeing up longingly. Also, annoyingly something has only just come to light. In Swiss tradition, if a nugget of bread is lost in the cheese by a man, he buys a bottle of wine, and if such a thing happens to befall a woman, she kisses the man on her left. If only I had known this before hand, I could have used my sharp elbows to bag myself a free bottle of plonk.