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Cheese course at restaurants-why bother if you can't do it right?

After horrific experiences with cheese plates at restaurants, I've finally had enough. Why can't they do it right? Here are some of the basic requirements of a properly presented cheese course. Restauranters please take notice. Fellow hounds, please offer opinions:

1. Do NOT serve me cheese that is cold. Cold cheese is the death knell of taste.

2. Please provide seperate cheese knifes so that I am not using my Brie knife to cut into my Roquefort.

3. Do NOT pile the cheeses on top of one another. Provide a large enough plate so they are not "touching" each other. Its absolutely inexcusable that cheese would ever be presented like this.

4. If you are going to present with grapes, make sure they are fresh, and also at room temperature.

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  1. My opinion is that you're completely correct. Your #1 is the first thing I thought of.

    I'd add: If you're going to offer a cheese plate, at least try to have some creative and unusual cheeses on there. I'm not forking out big bucks for Cracker Barrel type and quality cheeses. If I order a cheese plate (and don't get to select what is on it), I want to be impressed, not bored.

    Also, please keep it simple. Don't overwhelm me or the cheese with a ton of accoutrements.

    1. The original comment has been removed
      1. How about:

        5. Position your cheeses in a tasting order, not in some random order on the plate.

        6. Brie is rarely if ever a good option on a cheese plate

        7. Apples too should be fresh on the plate

        1. Couldn't agree more.
          Also, provide enough crackers etc to be able to eat all of the cheese without being made to feel a glutton by having to ask for more!
          And jpschust's apples have to be crisp not soft.

          1. I've never understood what the big deal is with cheese courses. At Picholine in NY, they have a professional and quite well-known affineur to age their cheeses, so what you get you couldnt get anywhere else. But if you went to the best cheese store in NY you could find something very close, take it home and eat it. However, to have any hope of duplicating at home the appetizers and entrees served by Terence Brennan at Picholine, you would have to start by going to culinary school for a year and then spend the whole day prepping and cooking.

            5 Replies
            1. re: Brian S

              Amen !!!

              If you are in a town that has good cheese shops there's usually not a point in ordering a cheese course.

              My rule is ...

              DON"T serve me a portion that is about the size of the sample I get at my local cheese shop.

              In SF Gary Danko gets all sorts of praise for the cheese course. Yes, there a big variety and some interesting stuff, but nothing I can't buy at the good local cheese store. However, the serving size is about the size or litle bigger than what my cheesemongeer hands me as a free sample.

              I suggest to anyone getting an ineptly served cheese plate to send it back, tell the why and have them take the charge off your bill.

              1. re: rworange

                By this logic one shouldn't order beer, coffee, or anything else they can easily buy to take home.

                1. re: jpschust

                  It is the one thing I can do better at home, so I personally don't have an interest in it though I'll order it once in restaurants who have a reputation for great cheese carts. I've never been wowed.

                  A cheese course is something ordered for itself. It does not accompany other food like beverages.

                  It is nice though that restaurants offer it so when I'm going out for just drinks, there's a little something to snack on.

                2. re: rworange

                  "If you are in a town that has good cheese shops there's usually not a point in ordering a cheese course. "

                  i'm sorry, but i disagree completely. by that logic, i wouldn't order wine, cocktails or anything besides sushi out. (i'm a culinary professional, btw.)

                  {and i have had heavenly experiences at picholine and artisanal, his cafe, numerous times}. sure the cheese may be available in my local shop, but then i have to buy at least 1/4 pound of at least 5 or 6 varieties, make 5 or 6 different lovely accompaniments, serve it and clean it up myself. then do what with the rest?

                  i don't have a sweet tooth and am very glad better restaurants in this country now serve a cheese course.

                  i'm quite happy to have a few small bites of several kinds and feel very sated.

                  1. re: hotoynoodle

                    I don't want a lot of cheese but Gary Danko was ridiculous. It wasn't bites ... it was bite ... very, very, very small bite for a very, very big price.