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Oct 20, 2006 05:42 PM

cheese plates at resturants

Just curious, is there a standard amount of cheese that should go on a restaurant cheese plate?

This comes up in reviews & posts from time to time (generous vs. skimpy). For LA examples, I thought the amount of cheese at Bottle Rock was skimpy, but at Lou it was generous. It's not like I'm going to carry a scale with me to check up on them or anything, but different places do seem to serve different amounts (taking into account that you're ordering a standard number of cheeses, not comparing a 3 cheese plate to a 5 cheese plate).

Also anyone have thoughts on how the additional things on the plate might influence perceptions of generosity vs meagerness? Only honeys and relishes, vs fig cake, nuts, fruit, etc. If there's not a lot of cheese sometimes I don't care if the extras are really interesting, but it is a cheese plate after all.

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  1. For me, I just want the cheese to be excellent. I don't even care if there isn't an excessive amount of cheese. Doesn't really matter how many other things are on the plate. All I need is the cheese, a few slices of good bread, a small amount of honey and/or fruit, just enough to set off the flavor of the cheese.

    Once I was served a mountain of cheese, crackers and grapes. A great deal, but it was mediocre cheese, Carrs crackers and enough grapes to last me a week at home. I wasn't impressed.

    The best cheese plate I've ever had was only 6 rather small pieces of perfect artisinal cheese, with equal pieces of french bread, a tablespoon of honey and comb, a bit of fig jam, and about 3 thin apple slices. The waiter took the time to lovingly tell us about each cheese before we proceeded to sample them.

    Sounds meager, right? But it wasn't. I personally don't want to be overwhelmed by a cheese plate, I want to to feel exhalted by it. This tasting was thoughtful, balanced and the cheese was the highlight - as it well should have been.

    1. It depends on the the cheeses being offered and how they are priced. IMO there is no set rule, it is about value.

      For example, $15 for a taste portion or sliver of burrata, humboldt fog and mimolette is fair.

      $15 for the same amount of an indiscriminate 'brie', young canadian cheddar and fontina is not.

      1. This thread reminds me of eating lunch at the Hostellerie de Levernois. In Levernois, of course, just south of Beaune. A Michelin 2 star at the time.

        When it was time for cheese, and the menu said the "plateaux" of cheese (plural), a couple waiters pushed cheese carts over to our table. One had cow's milk cheeses, one goat. You point at the cheese and say, yah, some of that (in French though), and they fill you up a plate.

        Never seen them cut anyone off for ordering too much. Awesome cheeses too, of course, probably a few dozen kinds on each cart.

        What the French have that Americans don't, is a job called affineur; a task called affinage. It's why cheese is so much better in France than America.

        In France they don't serve cheese with anything but bread, and wine.

        Did you know on a cheese plate, the wimpiest cheese should be at 12 o'clock, and they go around clock wise in increasing order of strength?

        I remember a small place in Arles, with a much more modest plat de fromage, and I asked for un gout de tout. They appreciate people with an appetite there too.

        So, I guess in answer to your original question, that's my idea of a "standard" amount of cheese. Whatever you pick out and can fit on a plate.

        3 Replies
        1. re: Chris Weber

          "In France they don't serve cheese with anything but bread, and wine."

          I think that's going to depend on the on restaurant in question. The wonderful Alsatian munster I had at Auberge de L'ill was served with fennel seeds to amazing effect.

          1. re: limster

            You mean alongside, or as part of the cheese? I don't remember anything like that when I was at Auberge de L'Ill.

            Never saw anything like that at the hundred or so other places I ate cheese at either.

            1. re: Chris Weber

              Alongside the cheese - that was winter 2001.

              I remember Fourme d'Ambert with dried apricots for the cheese course at Angl'Opera in the spring of 2004.

              Never been Pierre Gagnaire, but from what I read on Chowhound, his cheese course is anything but just cheese and wine.

        2. "Just curious, is there a standard amount of cheese that should go on a restaurant cheese plate?"

          It's usually 1.25 oz per cheese- more or less- on a typical cheese plate.

          1. I'm embarrassed to ask this, but what is the method for the cheese course? Do you eat the cheese with bread? At the end of a meal, bread seems to be overkill, but of course how else would you eat a soft cheese?

            2 Replies
            1. re: gsw

              Personally, if I'm having the course as desert, I pass on the bread and stick entirely with the cheese and maybe the fruit/jam/honey or whatever comes w/it. Bread definately is overkill at that point, unless it's something like a raisin bread (even still, most times too heavy).

              1. re: gsw

                On occasion, I've had really soft cheeses served on a spoon, so that help. :)