This weekend saw the debut of Ooh-Fondue, Hackney’s first pop up fondue restaurant.
It has already attracted attention from the likes of Philippa Perry, wife of Turner Prize winning artist Grayson Perry, and now they are looking to start a dating night, cheese single.
And what a better excuse to escape the cold weather than an evening of cheese and fine wine? ELL headed over to Hackney to find out more.
“Throw your coat on the pile, it’s very Abigail’s Party in here. People will probably be kissing on top of those by the end of the night,” jokes Ooh-Fondue’s director Michelle Booth.
The Number One Cafe on Well Street, usually the destination for a rescue bacon sarnie on a hung-over Sunday morning, has been transformed into a 70’s utopia for a three-night fondue lock in.
The pop up’s founders Michelle Booth, Josie Martin and Charlie Nicoll, dubbed the “infamous cheese triangle”, all live in east London.
The trio wanted it to be “ironic and very Hackney”, with Number One a regular haunt of theirs for the past 10 years.
Martin, who has worked as a stylist and is part of a concession store at the London Fields railway arches, masterminded the cafe’s makeover.
Believing it was about time that fondue made a comeback, she phoned Booth five weeks ago to tell her friend of her plan.
Little did they know that this late night telephone call would see them facing American customs officials to release impounded fondue pots that they had ordered from across the Atlantic.
Booth said the venture: “[It] is a complete labour of love. With any business, it is all about your own time, effort and reputation. We started with no investment up front, with the hope that it could be returned and would pay for itself.
“It has been great to start from scratch and get under the car bonnet so to speak. We take our menu very seriously, it is all about good quality local produce.”
Nicoll and Martin both work at Exmouth Market tapas bar Morito in Islington, and it is chef Nicoll’s connection to the food world that inspired their menu.
The ingredients are sourced locally from independent traders, with cheese from Neal’s Yard Dairy, bread from E5 Bakehouse, meat from Borough Market and wine from Borough Wines.
The five-course menu is exquisite, with a seasonal ‘Best of British’ fondue – an alternative Christmas dish that would warm the heart of even the biggest Scrooge.
And the food is only half of the Ooh-Fondue experience. With diners coupled with strangers, it turns into one of the most social of dining experiences in London, as conversation begins to flow against the warming 70s backdrop.
Booth, who hit the national media back in April after giving birth in a Central London hotel, admitted the pop up has taken over their lives: “My Google searches have gone from things about my son to endless searches of cheese related puns – and believe me the list is endless!”
Ooh-Fondue has already started to take private bookings and aims to make the pop up permanent.