He’s done a cheese truck, a cheese bar and a cheese conveyer belt restaurant, and now Mathew Carver has taken to the water and opened The Cheese Barge. AHOY. The double decker boat is permanently moored on the Grand Union Canal in Paddington and unsurprisingly, it serves up a hell of a load of cheese. The actual boat itself has been well designed. There’s plenty of space inside (plus a terrace on top) and nice big windows letting in lots of light, and giving you a great view of the ducks if you’re sat on the water side.
The menu is split into cheeseboards, small plates, sharers and grilled cheeses, and you do have to be a bit tactical with the ordering so you don’t get overwhelmed – luckily the staff are more than ready to help out here. The cheeseboard section is a great way to ease in and try cheeses that may be new to you (all the cheeses are British), and the portions are small enough that you can nibble on these in between your other dishes – we recommend the Baron Bigod, the Sinodun Hill with London Honey and the Spenwood.
For us, it’s the small plates where this place really shines. All the dishes have a cheese component (obviously as this is a cheese restaurant) but with other elements to provide relief; with the lamb scrumpets for example, the White Lake Goats’ Curd is the accessory rather than the star but the pairing really works. Having said that, the Westcombe curried cheese curds are essentially blobs of deep fried cheese doused in chilli honey and they are insanely addictive. No relief necessary with those.
You could easily order from that section alone and leave very well-fed but the sharing dishes are worth a go – the aligot (made here with Kirkham’s Lancashire) is essentially a giant bowl of cheesy mash, served alongside pork & fennel sausages, red cabbage and gravy. It’s a big bowl but you’d be surprised how quickly that cheesy carby goodness disappears. You do need something sweet to finish things off and the malted milk & salted caramel chocolate pot is far lighter than it sounds and small enough that it won’t tip you over the edge.
The Cheese Barge feels like the most well-rounded venue from the group – the menu is varied enough to enable you to have a proper dinner (which you can’t really do at Pick & Cheese) and the dishes are more refined than the comfort food at The Cheese Bar. If you love cheese, you need to get onboard pronto.
Sheldon Square, Paddington Central, London, W2 6HY