I was in middle school the first time a friend casually mentioned that her family liked to order a cheese plate when dining out. I was stunned. Why order cheese when you could order…anything else? Now that I’m older and wiser, I’ve changed my tune and have fully embraced the cultured lifestyle. The cheese course has become essential to my dining experience, sometimes eclipsing the rest of the meal entirely. And let’s be real: Before, during, or after a meal, there’s never really a wrong time to enjoy curds. If you’re looking to broaden your cheesy horizons, check out the options below for inventive offerings across the US.
1. THE GOLDEN EAGLE
“Atlanta’s Finest” Fondue is literally just a heated wheel of Jasper Hill Farm Harbison, and it’s absolutely genius. The folks at The Golden Eagle remove the top rind and torch the whole thing under a Salamander (a kitchen device used for broiling and browning). Served with sourdough, candied walnuts, apples, honey, and pesto, this gooey delight isa real showstopper.
2. BRENNER PASS
If you’re unfamiliar with the cheese cart phenomenon, here’s a crash course: A relic of the French fine dining tradition, this is essentially a cheese case on wheels that pulls up tableside. Entire wheels sit ready to be sliced by your server once you’ve made your selection. Brenner Pass fills their cheese cart with dozens of choices, featuring a rotating cast of classic Alpine selections like dazzling Tête de Moine and luscious Beaufort d’Alpage.
San Francisco, California
Come for the natural wine, stay for the tasty food. Verjus serves up some truly lovely cheeses on their ever-changing menu, displayed on an old-school marquee on the restaurant’s back wall. Choices range from burrata drenched in finely chopped pickled vegetables and served with house-made levain, to a Boursin and yellow onion omelette (for dinner!).
4. FIORE FINE FOODS
We should all be eating more cheesy sweets. Fiore has plenty of expertly crafted pastas and perfectly grilled meats, but the real star of the show is their fromage-filled dessert menu. Standouts include the Pear Crostata with brown butter, pine nuts, and Taleggio gelato, and the Tortadi Grano Saraceno with mascarpone, fennel, and hazelnuts served with Meyer lemon and orange sorbetto.
5. FOX & THE KNIFE
Two words: Taleggio. Focaccia. I’d belying if I said I don’t dream about thisappetizer on a regular basis. House-made focaccia is stuffed with Taleggio: It’s simple, irresistible, and pairs very well with any of their specialty libations. (Try the Fox 75, their take on a French75, made with Barr Hill gin, blood orange, and Prosecco.)
6. ALL TOGETHER NOW
This all-day eatery is part cheese counter ,part wine shop, part dreamy café you’ll never want to leave. Stop by in the morning for their hand-rolled bagels with cream cheese or grab a midday cheese and meat board. For dinner try a cultured dairy dish like fluke crudo with cucumbers and yuzu buttermilk. At All Together Now, the possibilities are (almost) endless!