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Review: Swiss Cheese Fondue Night

BY Boon Koh
Published 18 April 2010

I love cheese fondue ever since the first fateful encounter in a ski chalet with a blizzard howling outside and sore feet from a day’s worth of skiing. As with most other things experienced on holidays, I found myself promising to eat more cheese fondue, but somehow never really got around to finding out where to have it in London.

Until two weeks ago, that is, when a friend asked me if I had heard about the Swiss Cheese Fondue Nights being held at the Swissôtel The Howard (where else!), just around the corner from Temple Street tube station. I immediately jumped at the chance, and found myself asking why I hadn’t done it sooner during the cold winter in London. The Swiss Cheese Fondue Night takes place every Tuesday and Friday evenings until the end of April 2010, but is due to come back again sometime later this year in October.

For those unfamiliar with traditional Swiss cheese fondue, the main centrepiece a melting pot of Swiss cheeses; in this case Gruyère, Vacherin Mont D’Or and Epoisse, with a generous portion of white wine added to the fondue to give it a kick. Using miniature barbeque-like sticks, you dip crusty bread cubes into the melting pot of cheese, coating the bread cubes with the liquid cheese, before quickly getting it into your gob before the cheese cools and starts to set. If this all sounds like alot of hype about just a bit of bread and cheese, it isn’t; there’s something about having a mouthful of warm Swiss cheese with a bit of crunchy bread.

The Swiss Cheese Fondue Night at the Swissôtel in London takes place in a purpose built authentic Swiss chalet in their garden courtyard, and we were thoroughly impressed with the place, as it did look like a real Swiss chalet that wouldn’t look out of place on a ski slope in Switzerland. The only thing to give it away was the mock-simulated fireplace, but we can forgive for that because of health and safety reasons. Still, we were absolutely tickled by the chalet-style furniture, luxurious leather sofas by the fireplace, and antlers hanging from the ceiling.

The fondue night package comes in at £23 per person, and includes a full four-course-like menu with mixed leaf salad, selection of sliced cured meats with pickles, crusty sourdough bread to dip in the three cheese Swiss fondue, and a choice of desserts between apple strudel with custard or traditional cherry cake with chantilly cream.

The mixed leaf salad was actually very well tossed, with very fresh vegetables and just the right amount of vinaigrette dressing, something that I have found many other London restaurants fail at. Next there was a big platter of sliced cured meats, which were quite standard but nonetheless welcome for us carnivores on the table. The star of the show though was the pot of cheese fondue, and the very tasty sourdough bread to go with it. The cheese was just so irresistible that we ended up trying to dip our sliced meats, pickles, and salad into the cheese fondue (the meats work, the veggies don’t!) just to get more of that warm gooey cheese.

While having the cheese fondue we had momentarily forgotten that dessert was included as well, but we just could not resist trying out the apple strudel or the cherry cake. While the apple strudel might be the safe option, do go for the cherry cake as it was actually very tasty, full of sweet flavour and with a cheesecake like texture. While the apple strudel was good as well, we did find it a bit plain and unadventurous.

Verdict: All in all, a pretty interesting night out, and one of the more surprising nights out we have had in a hotel restaurant. While we do recommend steering clear of most hotel restaurants because of their lacklustre menus and food, we highly recommend the Swiss Cheese Fondue Night at the Swissôtel The Howard if you’re looking for an authentic and utterly delicious cheese fondue in London, not to mention dining in the surroundings of an awesome replica of a Swiss chalet.

More pictures of the Swiss Cheese Fondue Night at the Swiss chalet:

Rating: 7 out of 10 stars
Swiss Cheese Fondue Nights: Every Tuesday and Friday night till the end of April 2010, and will resume on 1st October later this year.
Address: 12 Temple Place Restaurant, Swissôtel The Howard, 12 Temple Place, London WC2R 2PR.
Booking/reservation tel: +44 207 836 3555
Website: www.temple-place.co.uk (online reservation system available)

Article written by Boon Koh.