Thursday, June 24, 2010

Update on the Cheese Bar

Several weeks ago I wrote up the Cheese Bar on Belmont -- a cheese shop that also has a rotating selection of five or six good draft beers and a few dozen nice bottled beers. While I said it was worth a visit, there were a few things I complained about. Since then, I've run into proprietor Steve Jones a couple of times, and also been back for another visit. Some of my issues have been corrected, in other ways I was just off base, so I want to talk a little more about the place.

On our first visit we ended up getting several $1 orders of crostini (4 pieces), to get through the cheese and meat plates we ordered. I complained that it would make more sense to offer baguettes instead of small, expensive toast. Well, it turns out there are baguettes available, and reasonably priced at that: $1 for a smallish "demi" baguette, or $3 for a typical very big baguette. The demi was worth about 4 orders of crostini, and makes a good accompaniment to a cheese plate or an order of house-blended potted cheese.

In the first writeup, I was also puzzled by the prices of bottled beer. Some of them seemed ridiculously cheap, others insanely overpriced, but the real confusion was on the take-home price, which subracted either $1, $1.50, or $2 from the price. Steve explained to me that the $1.50 premiums were a mistake that has now been corrected. The $2 surcharge should only be on big bottles -- those that two people would share at the bar -- and the $1 for single-serving bottles.

Steve also mentioned to me that the cheeses on the daily special are kept out at room temperature. That had been my other quibble -- I felt like the cheese we got on the first visit was served too cold. There's no way around it if you select your own cheeses -- they come straight out of the cooler, as they should. But if you stick to les fromages du jour, they'll be served to you at a tastier temperature. You'll get an explanation of the cheeses when they're served to you, but if you're like me it's so much new information and unfamiliar names that it tends to go in one ear and out the other. Maybe someday the cheese plate will come with a little printout that names and describes the cheeses, so you can remember them afterwards.

So the things that grated on me a few weeks ago turn out to be non-issues. One thing I would reiterate from the original post is that you'll have a much more relaxed time sitting at the tables than at the bar. Four of us sat at a table on this second visit, as opposed to two of us at the bar, and it made all the difference in the world. There's just too much activity on both sides of the bar for it to be very comfortable. I took a look at the back patio also, but I can't really recommend the couple of tables out there right now: they're in a tiny space loomed over by the back parking lot, not a very good atmosphere.

Grab a table, a beer, a baguette, and some cheese, and you'll have a good time at the Cheese Bar.


  1. Yep, the last time I went back I got the $1 baguette, and it made all the difference with the cheese plate. I washed it all down with an upright apricot anniversary on tap, and a boulevard saison brett from a 750 bottle shared with a friend, and it made for a great mid-afternoon meet up.

  2. Thanks for the updates Bill. I would offer that if you go during off hours when there is not much traffic in the store (weekday after lunch for example), sitting at the bar is actually a great way to interact with the friendly and knowledgable staff. My wife and I learnt alot about cheese by doing so. We also had great conversation with AnnaLou, who is awesome!