Best place in the Us to Eat Cheese
I travel a lot, and am always looking for interesting places to eat when I travel. I am also a cheesaholic, and so I am trying to find the best restaurant to try cheese. Can be a cheese plate, flight, cart - whatever. But since I am usually in a hotel room I really dont have the means to purchase a chunk at a market and bring it back.
What are your favorite places to get cheese? Extra points for places that you can comfortably order just a cheese plate or flight, and for places that are a bit casual.
Well, to keep the conversion going, I will suggest Delachaise in New Orleans. Probably not really the best in the country, but an extensive interesting selection nonetheless.
Farmer's markets in cheese making areas will often have stalls with local cheeses. Some may offer samples, while others could sell smallish pieces. Asking nicely for them to sell a smaller piece often works; being passionate about a particular cheese they're selling can also be persuasive. Do go early, so that you can have the extra attention of the stall, without affecting their interactions with other customers. It's as casual as it gets, and one can't beat talking about the cheese with the sellers who may sometimes also be involved in making the cheese. Can also work in a good cheese shop if the owners are there and they're not busy.
Ok, I am going to make another New Orleans rec, b/c it fits your criteria to a tee: St. James Cheese Company (whose proprietor previously ran a centuries-old cheese shop in london, so he comes pedigreed). It's a wonderful little shop, focusing on artisanal cheeses, with friendly owners, knowledgeable staff, great cheese selection, casual atmosphere. It doubles as a cafe; they, of course, welcome orders for cheese plates. They also serve great salads and sandwiches.
If, however, you want attention from the staff to chat w/ them about the cheese, avoid going during the super-busy lunch hour(s). The place is justifiably popular.
It's on a busy little stretch of Prytania St., thickly studded with other chowish delights (local ice creamery, good sushi, French, Thai, and contemporary creole restaurants, wine store).
If you are a cheesaholic, you should check out the Vermont Cheese Trail as soon as you have a chance. I ventured there in the dead of winter and so could not tell, out of the few sit-down places that remained open, whether there would be enough places to serve you cheese. However I still had a great time, touring creameries, sampling various cheeses, chatting with the farmers and sitting down for their burgers (made from the meat right from the farm). Lovely, casual barn setting for the meals. Got a van-load of great products to bring home too. Highly recommended.
As for your specific needs, you can check out the link to see if there are actual restaurants specializing in cheese. There are a lot on that trail, and a lot of information there:
Hope that helps.