As you may be aware if you’re a regular reader of this blog, I’ve written previously about the idea of specialist cheese-based restaurants.
One of the most notable such places here in the UK is the cheesy Valhalla that is the Cheese Bar in London, which we reviewed a few months ago.
On the whole though, cheese-based restaurants are something that don’t see anywhere near as often as you should. Imagine my delight then recently when I had the opportunity to dine at the Cheezy Vinyl Bar – a brilliant establishment that gets its name because their signature meal is a cheese board served on an old vinyl record?
Now you’re probably thinking that this sounds brilliant, right – and possibly even having idle thoughts of heading for wherever the Cheezy Vinyl Bar is, in order to check it out?
Alas though, it’s not that simple.
Rather than being a permanent restaurant, the Cheezy Vinyl Bar is a ‘pop-up’ venture that appears mainly at summer music festivals.
I stumbled the Cheezy Vinyl Bar a few weeks ago when I attended a three-day event called the Y Not? festival in Derbyshire. And it was a happy reminder of just how much music festivals have upped their game over the last couple of decades when it comes to catering provision. Back in the 90s when I first got the bug for spending whole weekends camped out in a tent and watching loads of live music, most festival fodder – from grim burgers to questionable hippy-fied mug bean stew – was to be treated with utmost suspicion.
Today however, even at smaller festivals like Y Not?, the amount of different types of food available can be overwhelming. Glastonbury meanwhile is said to be technically be the biggest food festival in the world these days, such is the sheer amount of choice.
But even among all the vast array of culinary treats just waiting to be tried when you’re at a festival (providing you have deep pockets), the Cheezy Vinyl Bar still stands out.
Although being a big fan of cheese, I guess I’m bound to say that.
Irrespective of its cheesiness though, the one key selling point of the Cheezy Vinyl Bar is the fact that they offer you the option to eat in – whereas most festival food outlets are takeaway only.
What’s more, it’s a lovely eating in environment too – from the outside it looks like a fairly functional rectangular-shaped marquee, but inside it’s decorated with lovely coloured fabrics that give it the feel of some sort of Bedouin field canteen. And I loved all the signs too bearing the Cheezy Vinyl Bar’s motto – ‘Eat cheese, feel sexy’! That’s would be a pretty solid philosophy for life really.
But what was the food like? Well having been at the Y Not? festival for the whole weekend, I actually ended up eating at the Cheezy Vinyl Bar several times. And as well as their signature cheese boards, their menu offered an impressive array of cheese-based dishes – from baked Camemberts to deep-fried Haloumi to cheesy nachos.
I must say was quite tempted to try and work my way through the whole menu whilst at the festival, purely in the interests of research you understand. Sometimes though in life, difficult choices have to be made – although over the course of my time at Y Not? I did get to try a cheese board, a baked Camembert and the cheesy nachos. Without exception, all three dishes get the thumbs up – but it was the cheese board that was the real winner.
As well as the fact that it comes served on an old record – literally a platter of cheese – the best thing about the cheese board was the fact that there was the option to pick which three cheeses you wanted out of a choice of seven, plus what sort of chutney and what sort of pickle. Now my maths isn’t very good, but I think it’s safe to say that this amount of choice offers hundreds if not thousands of possible permutations! After much deliberation we went with a dependable trio of Stilton, Brie and smoked Cheddar, accompanied by red onion chutney and a pickled onion. All three cheeses were excellent and served in generous quantities, as were the accompanying crackers – and for the record (if you pardon the pun), the old 12 inch that it all came served on was a naff 80s chart compilation. All in all, well worth the £7 – particularly in view of the fact that you tend to pay a bit more for things at a music festival.
All in all then, if you’re the sort of person who goes to music festivals, the Cheezy Vinyl Bar is well worth looking out for. A great idea, and it’s worth mentioning too that the guys who run it were all really friendly too. Hopefully it’ll continue to be a success for them…