St. James Cheese Company
Anyone been there yet (on Prytania, near Crepe Nanou)? I've been in a few times and love it. The sandwiches are great, the staff are very knowledgable, and the cheese selection is unsurpassed in the city. Probably in a three state radius. I highly recommend it.
I have to disagree with you completely about the selection foodmuse. Whole Foods has a lot of cheese, but nothing like the quality that you find at St. James. I've never bought cheese from St. James and found it dried, or off, or anything other than at its peak. There's absolutely nothing to compare to it in New Orleans; the closest is Martin's. Also, WF may have a particular variety of cheese that matches up to what's offered at St. James, but that Camembert at St. James is from a small producer, artisanally produced, and a hell of a lot better than what you'll find at WF. That's more true for some of the more obscure (to me anyway) varieties on offer.
The service, as you said, is also superb as far as knowledge of the product and enthusiasm. They're actually anxious to give you a sample of anything you're interested in. That's not a criticism of Whole Foods, it's a supermarket after all. St. James is certainly not a place to zip in and out, and when it's even a little crowded, the wait can be significant. To me it's worth the wait for the cheese, but then I'm a little odd.
I have enjoyed my visits there, too. I generally stick to the cheese plates, with maybe a few slices of serano ham on the side, and a beverage from the Wine Seller next door. I have not been overwhelmed by the rather scattered service, but what they lack in organiztion they certainly make up for in cheerfulness and obvious passion for---and knowlege of---their products.
I haven't found the selection there to be that superior to WF's, but I'm certainly glad to be able to spend my cheese-dollars at a locally owned cheese monger. I am also impressed by their emphasis on locally sourced products. In addition to a full line of John Folse's cheeses, they carry PeteV's pates and galantines, and---I'm blanking on the other guy right now... maybe Cochon's?
Interesting comments on this shop, that is new to me. Our WF's has really lost most of its appeal, regarding their cheese selection. About the time that it was purchased by a group out of Dallas, the Phoenix WF's fell to about #3 in the area, which was sad. Sounds like the NO branch has not suffered that fate, at least not yet. Gotta' inculde this one, on my next visit.
Thanks for the info,