Restaurants, vintage shops, pottery stalls; the ever-bustling Old Spitalfields Market has it all.
The East London market is also home to Androuet, a cheese shop-cum-bar that was opened in 2010, by brothers Leo and Alex Guarneri, from France.
“Alex was a cheesemonger back home and came here to work for Paxton & Whitefiled, one of the oldest cheese shops in London,” says Leo, a chef by trade.
France may be renowned for their cheeses, but the UK has a far greater variety, with 40 per cent of Androuet’s cheeses sourced from this country.
“We started to realise that there are so many good products here, and that’s where the concept of opening Androuet came from,” Leo says.
“In France, one area produces a certain type of cheese, and that cheese is generally named after the place where it is made. In the UK one family produces one type of cheese, so there is more variety here.”
When the brothers started their venture seven years ago they were selling cheese on a table in the Old Spitalfields Market. Now they have a beautiful shop that overlooks the same spot where they began.
“We sold from the table for one winter and then opened our first shop in April 2010,” recalls Leo. “We chose London because we think it’s a gastronomical city, over the last 10 years the food scene has improved so much. To us it was a really opened minded city when it came to food, so we thought it would be perfect.”
The Guarneri brothers got the name for the shop from the House of Androuet, a French cheese and maturing shop in Paris, which was set up in 1909.
“We don’t consider ourselves a chain. Our only link is that we work with some of the same cheese producers, and have the same philosophy of quality ingredients and food,” says Leo.
To find the best cheese the shop has a team in Paris that is dedicated to finding new products. But the hunt for the best produce does not stop there, as Leo and his brother are constantly travelling to new farms to find undiscovered cheeses. “There is a lot of love involved. When we find something that we really adore, it will find a place in Androuet.”
The love for the cheese carries on when the product is brought back home. “All the cheeses which are being served here have been aged by us. That’s really a big part of our job, we’ve got someone that matures the cheese full time.”
The shop has a cellar on premises for the ageing process. The cheeses are left for a certain amount of time, depending on their maturity levels.
Leo emphasises that opening up another shop is not their priority at the moment: “We prefer to concentrate on the one shop and focus on sourcing for the finest ingredients around instead of balancing several stores.”
However, Androuet has been expanding in other ways. “We supply Michelin star and high quality restaurants in London, and we have increased our in-shop range and the menu at the bar,” he adds.
Androuet have also released a seasonal cheese book, A Year in Cheese.
Androuet is open everyday from 10am until 7pm, with the bar open on Wednesday to Sunday from 5pm until 10.30pm.