Almost certainly the best cheese
shop anywhere, and possibly therefore the best shop anywhere. It's at 93 Jermyn Street
, London, a quiet street one south of busy Piccadilly
, and occupied mainly by expensive purveyor
s of gentlemen's accoutrements such as shirts and pipes. Amid this, and not very far from Fortnum & Mason
, sits Paxton & Whitfield, cheesemonger
s since 1797.
Sir Winston Churchill said, "A gentleman only buys his cheese from Paxton & Whitfield." - Nigella Lawson says "Pleasure beyond the telling", and I bet she knows a thing or two about that. - Bernard Levin once wrote that when the end of civilisation came and everyone else was fleeing for the hills, he'd be backing a large lorry through the plate glass window of Paxton & Whitfield, with apologies, to stock up before fleeing. - See a picture of their elegant shop window at their website www.cheesemongers.co.uk. They've been in their present shop for over a hundred years.
They have Royal Warrants to the Queen, the Prince of Wales, and the late Queen Mother. Their first royal appointment was to Queen Victoria. They are old-fashioned, polite, quiet, amiable, and while somewhat expensive they are not absurdly so. You're not paying for the tourist cachet they way you would be in Fortnum & Mason or Harrods, you're simply paying for the world's very best cheeses.
They do sell other things to complement their cheese, like oatcakes, port, and so on, but all that's strictly secondary. It's not a very big shop, it can only take about half a dozen customers and you have to squeeze along the one counter, but that's good. No crowds of tourists. Nice and cool.
What more can I say? I'd have to start describing individual cheeses, and that's virtually impossible. When I was there yesterday I got Torta, Vignotte, Cantal, and Rustic Sharpham. The first two are amazingly creamy and probably even worse for you than the general run of cheese, but when it tastes like this, who cares? Other favourites of mine are Lincolshire Poacher and Waterloo, which they often feature prominently, but they have complete ranges of goat cheese (getting quite pricy), blue cheese, and tiny unidentifiable things under thick grey mould.
There are also Paxton & Whitfield shops of similarly antique appearance in Bath and in Stratford upon Avon.
Part of JudyT's Golden Jubilee celebration of Britain.