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your Favorite things from Cheeseboard?

  • a

I'll be near that area in Northwest Berkeley for a few months, so I am planning on visiting Cheeseboard quite often (yeay!). Anyway, since I can't afford to eat EVERYTHING there (money-wise AND diet-wise), I'd like some trustworthy recommendations.

Recs for good places to eat (and what to order) from around that area, too, please. (on a student budget)Thanks so much!

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  1. Um, cheese? They'll let you taste any and all, so I'd explore the types of cheese that interest you. They're great about recomending something if you give them some guidlines.

    While not cheap, for value I can recommend Phoenix Pastaficio which feature it's housemade pasta from it's adjoining past shop. ~$10 for a nice plate of pasta with a glass of wine included. Gregoire is take out only, but offers great food at reasonable prices. Guys running the place are characters too. Barney's is good for burger/hot sandwich and fry type fare.

    1. My absolute favorite is their "chocolate thing." My husband loves their cheese rolls.

      1 Reply
      1. re: ca_grown

        I LOVE the chocolate things--I eat one from Arizmendi almost every weekend! I am also a huge fan of the Cheeseboard (and Arizmendi's) baguettes. They're the best that I've tried in the Bay Area. The berry scones are very good. Also, the English muffins are delicious when they fresh (you have to eat them same day or they get quite hard. And pizza!

        Unfortunately, I haven't been to the Cheeseboard in a few months, but I usually enjoy their selection of artisinal French goat cheeses (le lingot and the like). Just tell them what you like and they'll give a few kinds to try.

      2. As someone already suggested, you can taste any of the cheeses you want and then decide. The staff there is very friendly and knowledgeable, and once someone is waiting on you (which can take a while, but usually not as long as you think it will, and you can browse the baked goods while you're waiting), you have their complete attention for as long as you want to try cheese. Unlike most cheese shops they post a list of what they have and the prices on a big chalk board, so you can use that as a starting point. Prices are more reasonable than most cheese specialty shops, and since they cut it to order you can also buy very small quantities.

        The baked goods are self-serve, quite reasonably priced and mostly sold by the pound, so it's very easy to sample everything, since you can just buy one of several things. I second the recommendations for the cheese rolls and the English muffins, but I particularly like the short breads, especially the ginger.

        The last time I was there I found out they also make their own crackers, which are really good and also very reasonably priced, especially for the quality. Since I don't eat crackers often I put them in a tin, which I then forgot about, but when I found them three months later I was pleasantly surprised to find that they were still quite good.

        1. I moved to Chicago 3 years ago, but I used to live around the corner from the Cheeseboard and later near Arizmendi in Oakland. I STILL crave chocolate things (especially when they are fresh out of the oven in the morning and the chocolate is still a little gooey) and Cheeseboard pizza (all the different variations I've had over the years have been good, but the corn ones were a special favorite). Whenever I have the chance to return to the area for a visit, one of the first stops I make is to the Cheeseboard. That place is amazing.

          1. The Cheeseboard's Cheese Bread is absolutely essential. I know some people have mentioned the cheese rolls, which are also very good, but the cheese bread is so good that we have to take bags of it with us when we fly to the East Coast to satisfy the longings of transplanted Berkeleyites. They have several kinds, from a simple one to one with onions and curry in it, and they are all delicious. I don't really eat cheese bread from any other bakery now because I've been spoiled by those soft, savory loaves.
            A nice place in that area that isn't too pricey and is good for a healthy-fix is the little take-out place on Vine next to the shoe store (towards Shattuck on the same block as Peet's). The name escapes me right now - Good Earth? - but it is really good, homey food. For super-budget eating, ask them what day-old sandwiches they have. Those are half price and tasty in a squishy way, but they keep them hidden behind the counter.
            Enjoy your stay in the "gourmet ghetto"!

            14 Replies
            1. re: Mariposa Bat

              The Juice Bar. That's what the little place on Vine is called. I just saw it in another post.
              I don't know if it's kosher to post anti-recommendations here, but I wanted to caution you to stay away from Saul's Deli. At least for a full meal. Way overpriced, underportioned... It seems like such a good idea but I've been watching it go downhill for 15 years or so.

              1. re: Mariposa Bat

                Thanks for the warning - I've actually been eyeing Saul's Deli for a few years (never got a chance to actually go in) and wondering if it's any good.

                By the way, Cha'am Thai is pretty good (somehow it tastes less strong than other Thai places, which I like). I'm wondering about the one next door, I think it's called Daria or something?

                1. re: anne

                  I think it's actually Dara. I know Cha Am is popular, but I've never seen the appeal.

                  Another interesting and reasonably priced option in that neighborhood is Cafe de la Paz, on Shattuck just south of Cedar. Nuevo Latino small plates; live music; brunch.

                2. re: Mariposa Bat

                  I ate at Saul's about a year ago and the food was excellent -- if you love Sephardic spices. They had a new-ish chef who is Sephardi and her touch was delicate.

                  But I didn't try things like pastrami or chicken liver.

                3. re: Mariposa Bat

                  The place referred to for take out is The Juice Bar Collective..I think part of the cheeseboard collective as well.

                  1. re: roxie

                    Oh, you lucky thing! I lived in that neighborhood for three months once, house-sitting, and fell in love! I will add to the suggestions my favorite bread from Cheeseboard, although I cannot remember the name: it is similar to an English muffin, but dusted with, I think, cheese and a red pepper mixture. I used to buy a bag of them and dip them in Tzatziki (available next door at Andronico's) to tame the heat. Bon app├ętit, fellow Berkleyite!

                    1. re: Jess

                      zampano is the name, i believe.

                      1. re: wally

                        The zampano are delicious, and so are their English muffins. The English muffins are totally different from Thomas' or one of those thin store-bought muffins, they are extremely tasty with great texture. I like them for sandwiches as much as with butter and jam.

                  2. re: Mariposa Bat

                    oops just noticed this is a discussion from 2003 not 2013.

                    1. re: escargot3

                      Yeah, didn't have a little dot next to it, so I thought it was new...until I saw a reference to Cafe de la Paz.

                      1. re: Glencora

                        I miss Cafe de la Paz. They had those whole-corn-fritter appetizers - Cachapes or something? - anyone know another source?

                        1. re: bbulkow

                          If it is indeed a cachapa you want, Coupa Cafe makes them during fresh corn season which would be now.

                  3. don't forget to try acme's breads as well. i like acme a little more than cheeseboard bread (cheeserolls, pizza, and chocolate things are hard to beat though) the ac,e bakery is at cedar and san pablo, next to cafe fanny (good and fairly inexpensive). they also sell their bread at andronico's and berkeley bowl. near cheeseboard, gregoire is a great place to check out. lunch is a little cheaper than dinner. grab some cheese puffs and an entree and eat your lunch on the grass somewhere...

                    1. Seeded baguettes and mixed marinated olives!

                      1. Half-bake pizza. What a lovely way to spend an evening at home.

                        1. The granola is to die for. Their salsa, their mixed marinated olives,baguette,light bake pizza for home or get a few slices and listen to jazz at the pizza place. Cheese, cheese and more cheese. My most recent favorite:Rochetta from Italy.

                          1. Masse's Pastries - definitely! Great 50 cent cookies, as well as decadent (more expensive) eclairs, tarts, and little cakelets. Good cappuccino, too.

                            I don't think Saul's is that bad, actually. Maybe it's because I'm a West Coast-er, but their pastrami, their matzoh ball soup, their latkes...all strike me as fine. It's also a nice atmosphere.

                            Avoid Chester's Bay View Cafe above Peet's in the little plaza at Walnut & Vine. We went last weekend, thinking we'd finally discovered a good brunch spot close to home, but alas, it was not good. Each of us got one (1!) small slice of toast with our respective egg order. And the scrambled eggs were the opposite of fresh and fluffy.

                            Barney's is good for burgers, and so is Oscar's at Hearst & Shattuck. Unhealthy, but satisfying. Oscar's has about 1/100 the choice of burger toppings Barney's has.

                            Cha-Ya on Shattuck at Virginia is good for Japanese vegan. It's always packed, though, so get there early.

                            For Thai, I'd get take-out at Thai Noodle on Shattuck at Berkeley Way. It's darn good food - better than Cha-Am (with the exception of Cha-Am's specials - seemingly made by an entirely different chef), but the place is lacking any atmosphere.

                            Have fun exploring North Berkeley, and do be sure and get out to other parts of our lovely town, too (like Berkeley Bowl!).

                            4 Replies
                            1. re: Alexandra

                              How does Thai Noodle compare to old standby Plearn, if you know both? Looking for places cheaper and closer than Ruen Pair. I'm no expert, but I think most Thai food now is just too sweet (because more popular?) Also have been to Thep Naaree (sp?), Plearn, Hin Hua, Sabuy x2, Soi4, Cha Am. Used to like Thai BBQ (?) on Shattuck -- there's a terrible place now (Thai E Sun?) - close to Spat's.

                              1. re: Margot

                                I like Siam Cuisine on University just above San Pablo. Although I've always just ordered the same few dishes there. My housemate always orders the Penang beef and refuses to share it -- it really is good.

                                I also used to like Nakapan on MLK just north of University, but I haven't been there for a while. The food there is a different style than most: lighter and brighter, more delicate.

                                1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                  Thanks for the reminder. Siam Cuisine is frequently recommended but I always forget about it!

                                  1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                    Nakapan closed a couple of months ago, unfortunately. Too bad -- it was a decent neighborhood place.


                              2. I love the cherry corn scones. mmmmmmm. For something a little smaller and less sweet, though completely filling and tasty, wolverines hit the spot.

                                1. Special Announcement:

                                  Cheeseboard, operating in "affineur-mode" rather than fromager-mode, has a BEECHER WHITE CHEDDAR from WA they aged for 8yrs. It is incredible. It's complex in flavor, somewhat creamy, somewhat crumbly and has the little "crystals" I like in some other aged cheeses.

                                  It is one of the best cheeses I have had. While not cheap [$17ish?] is a lot cheaper than the other some of the other "most incredible" cheeses I can think of (like the one with SAUTERN, which was something like $40. And I have ad some other superior cheese experience in fancy restos with cheese carts, but only because the cheese was well-accessorized. While this one stands alone.)

                                  The Cheese Mistress who recommended it to me agreed "that is what PRAIRIE BREEZE would taste like if aged 8yrs". Note also "It will sell out this week and will never be available again." I will probably go back an get more on Tue.

                                  It may be the best thing to come out the the BUSH ERA.

                                  13 Replies
                                  1. re: psb

                                    They carried an incredible 12 year old Hook's cheddar last year for close to $30/lb. Lots of crystals. It's not as good as Hook's 15 year cheddar, heh, but beggars can't be choosers. I don't know if they currently have it, but it was one of the many good things to come out of the Clinton era :-)

                                    1. re: hyperbowler

                                      Hook's well-aged cheddars are fantastic. I haven't had them since I left Madison more than 7 years ago.

                                    2. re: psb

                                      Beecher's regular Flagship Cheddar is $17.50 a pound at the Pike's Place Market Mother store. This is a bargain.

                                      1. re: wolfe

                                        I think they may be selling a couple of the not-very-advertised "fait maison" items at a "friend price". The had another one-shot insource aged cheese for $10/lb.

                                        Have people seen this:

                                        BTW, did the cheeseboard plan to do fruit turnovers go bust? The told me a while ago "we finally got the machine for the dough/crust" and I tried them onve or twice but havent seen them in a long time. Maybe they surrendered to Acme.

                                        1. re: psb

                                          I left some of the only block of cheddar they have left, I guess a couple of pounds, and then it's gone.

                                      2. re: psb

                                        Thank you for this. I bought a small piece this morning. They said that they originally 40 lbs of it.

                                        1. re: wally

                                          Yes, they aged one wheel I believe. I ended up buying the last .6lbs block and brought it up to my lab.

                                          Now it's gone!

                                          I asked if they had any other cheeses they were aging and she mentioned another cheddar, but it was not clear to me if it was going to be for sale "soon" or in 3yrs. I got the impression it was not available "now".

                                          Hope you like it.


                                          1. re: psb

                                            I love it. I am eating it very slowly. I got 0.35 lbs.

                                          2. re: wally

                                            I got some of the last of it an hour ago.....

                                          3. re: psb

                                            Perhaps those of you who were lucky enough to score this could share your impressions on the Cheese Board,

                                            1. re: Melanie Wong

                                              Oh Hi MWong.

                                              This week's advanced cheese the LE MANIGODINE.

                                              The were out of BRILLAT SAVERIN so that is not a bad cheese to spread on some stone fruit when it is a bit overripe. Although may be bit more salt.

                                              I tried the a couple of the AGED GOUDA but for some reason they didnt taste aged enough (I tried the OLD AMSTERDAM and PRIMA DONNA. The were out of EWEPHORIA and I told the Cheese Associate not to bother with the BEEMSTER and we moved on to trying some other stuff.)

                                              I actually went down there to try some PIAVE, but I thought it kinda sucked.

                                              Some of the standards were as good as ever. e.g. got a hunk of HUMBOLDT FOG to time me over the CHEESEBOARD SUMMER HIATUS next week.

                                              The GOAT BRIE I liked in the store but didnt like at home just now (i'm actually not a big fan of BRIE, EPOISSES etc), but I think it will be ok with fruit.

                                              This is a bit declasse, but the current batch of MOCK BOURSIN is really good. I had to work late yesterday and ate a tub of it at my lab. Speaking of declasse. Unfortunately that's one the few things I dont believe you can try before you buy, and it does have variable quality.

                                              In non-cheese news, I went down the block to see if LOCAL BUTCHER had any CORNED BEEF. Apparently they have been selling al their beef, so havent had any "leftovers" for cornification. But they are scaling up their procurement, so maybe on a medium-range horizon again. I did pick up some of their GUINCIALE and PANCETTA to try for the first time. (My $2.75 slice-of-pizza lunch ended up kind of expensive with the Impulse Buys afterwards).

                                              1. re: psb

                                                Here's my earlier post on Chowhound's Cheese message board about La Manigodine.

                                                1. re: Melanie Wong

                                                  The LA MAG they had yesterday, was pretty far down the road in terms of agedness. It was stored in a plastic tub as it had lost all structural integrity.

                                                  So fo rthose of you who like your cheese running away, this might be one to try.

                                                  I am not a huge fan of TALEGGIO.

                                          4. I love a lot of the baked goods-English muffins, focaccia, these oniony things, bialies, pita bread.

                                            Around the neighborhood:

                                            I heard that Phoenix is reopening or has reopened a store. These people make unbelivibly excellent flavored fresh pasta. Perfect with a good Parmesan from the cheese board.

                                            Ippuku soba lunch on weekends worth trying.

                                            Farmers market on Saturday is very good.

                                            6 Replies
                                              1. re: wolfe

                                                Phoenix has been on Addison for a while. I don't think they have moved.

                                                1. re: wally

                                                  Just responding to Ridge who seems to have lost them since they closed the Shattuck store 7 years ago.
                                                  "I heard that Phoenix is reopening or has reopened a store."

                                              2. re: Ridge

                                                Phoenix has had a store on Addison for a long time. Their pasta's not great compared with homemade but better than the stuff that you get in the supermarket. The recent news was that they hope to open a cafe in the former Cafe Zeste space in the same complex:


                                                1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                  Oh, didn't know about the Addison store. I used to always go to the one on Shattuck. Since the Shattuck store closed I would get their pasta at the farmers market.

                                                  1. re: Ridge

                                                    Eric and Carol are still going strong! Great pasta, love the olive bread - I believe they have pizza 2 days a week???