If you brushed your hand against a table lamp and a genie magically appeared in your living room, what would you wish for? After that genie politely told me that he can't bring David Bowie back, and after he questioned whether I really want a tail, I'd probably just ask for an endless supply of cheese, which is honestly just like getting an endless supply of wishes.
But until residential genies are a thing, a newly opened restaurant in London is as close as I'm gonna get. Pick & Cheese calls itself the world's first cheese conveyor belt restaurant, and that is one glorious combination of words. It's also a magical place where guests are seated around a 40-meter conveyor belt that slowly presents an assortment of more than 25 different cheeses, all produced by traditional British cheesemakers. Each well-curated cheese is paired with a complementary condiment, which can be anything from sticky pear jam to honeyed garlic to a traditional northern Eccles cake.
Cheese novices can choose a pre-selected cheese flight, while connoisseurs and more adventurous eaters can help themselves to a stoneware plate or two (or six, or 10) from the conveyor belt. Each plate is color-coded according to its price, which ranges from a £2.95 ($3.64) cream plate to a £6.10 ($7.54) yellow plate. (There's also an Off-Belt menu that includes the owner's signature Four Cheese Grilled Cheese Sandwich and pan-fried 'Angloumi,' their all-English take on Cypriot halloumi.)
Pick & Cheese is the latest venture from Mathew Carver, who launched The Cheese Truck — and those gooey, melty sandwiches — five years ago. "For three months I worked at a bakery learning about bread and baking, reading everything I could about British cheese and consuming unhealthy amounts of it," he told Metro in 2014. "When we finally traded our first Sunday at Maltby Street Market, we only sold 20 sandwiches to family and friends." But the word about those sandwiches got out fast, and The Cheese Truck eventually made well-received appearances everywhere from the eternally soggy fields of Glastonbury to decidedly drier locations in Istanbul and Dubai.
Two years later, he opened his first brick-and-mortar restaurant, The Cheese Bar, in London's Camden Stables Market. It was there that he started dreaming about the conveyor belt that would soon serve as the new joint's centerpiece. "Pick & Cheese has been in the pipeline for well over a year now," Carver told Food & Wine. "We found at our Camden restaurant that our customers were always wanting to create their own bespoke cheeseboards. This inspired us to come up with the conveyor belt idea –– it’s interactive and cheeses are best served at room temperature so the model really had some legs. So Pick & Cheese was born!"
According to Carver, the Silton and chocolate and oat cookie has been the "fan favorite" pairing so far. "I think everyone is just so surprised that chocolate and cheese can actually go well together," he said.
For the undecided or for cheese novices, Carver recommended the Kingham –– another chocolate-and-cheese pairing –– that was released for the first time this summer. He also suggested the Beauvale ("a blue for people who ‘don’t like blue cheese) that is served with Pick & Cheese's house-made sticky pear jam.
Pick & Cheese is open every day from 12 p.m. until 9 p.m. inside London's shiny new independent food hall, Seven Dials Market. Walk-ins can snag bar seats for an hour, but groups of five or more are encouraged to make a reservation. And if you happen to bump into a genie on the way in, you can tell him nah, you're good.