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Sep 1, 2010 11:22 AM

Delicious Cheese at Wally's Cheese Box in West LA

We have tasted all the major cheese shops in LA and decided to try Wally's Cheese Box on a Saturday afternoon. The place is small and it was packed with customers and good things to sample! Despite the activity, our wait was short. Jenny Knotts, the creator of this cheese shop (I don't know her ownership share?) guided us through the very difficult (!!!) tasting process. We liked everything she offered!

We purchased a Cabot Creamery cow's milk clothbound cheddar, a piece of L'Amuse gouda (also cow's milk) from the Netherlands, and their Lambchopper Cypress Grove sheep's milk cheese. All three were delicious...and now long gone!

They also have shelved filled with other gourmet items which were tempting, but we were quite enamored with the cheeses and could not focus elsewhere. We will, however, return for more cheese!

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  1. I love this place too. It is my "neighborhood" liquor store (mainly beers; great selection with very knowledgeable beer man), and I discovered the cheese store after a beer tasting event where they gave away a free baguette to the cheese store. I also got some of the Cabot aged cheddar and loved it! Very friendly and helpful staff too.

    1 Reply
    1. How does it compare to BH Cheese Store (prices, quality, service). Thanks!

      14 Replies
      1. re: Snoopy

        Hi, Snoopy. Keep in mind that my comments to follow apply to my multiple visits to the BH Cheese Shop over many years and my singular, current visit to Wally's.

        We have had some great experiences at BH Cheese Shop. One time we were there late in the day on a Saturday, just before closing, and they couldn't have pampered us more! We tasted freely and they filled our bags with complimentary truly generous they were! Also, we have had some rather rushed experiences there. Sometimes, the crowds are jammed in, sardine-style, and service feels very mechanical and careless.

        The BH Cheese Store has a huge selection of cheeses and other items; other shops pale in comparison to their inventory. However, I was very impressed with everything we tasted at Wally's Cheese Box. I felt like their selection fit my tastes. The service was focused and gracious, casual and fun! I am anxious to return to explore more of the selection at Wally's.

        I think if you are searching for a particular cheese, then the BH Cheese Store should be your first call. However, if you want to take home some good cheese and you are open to "new" tastes and suggestions, then I like the feel of Wally's.

          1. re: Snoopy

            Snoopy, when you go, please report on your experience. If she is there and if she is available to assist you, Jenny Knotts (the founder) is worth waiting for! She is in the last photo on this page of their website:

          2. re: liu

            Just to add to this. I love the BH Cheese Store, and have been going there since it opened. However, I am very impressed with Wally's. Most of the cheeses I like from BH are available, though they lack some of the breadth of selection, especially in age Parmesans and Reggianos. Still, they do have a very good range of choices, probably second only to Beverly Hills (and far superior to a place like artisan). Jenny is very knowledgeable and gave me some great options to complement the cheeses that I knew I wanted to get.

            She also is willing to take suggestions. For instance, when I last visited, we had a discussion about the pate options. She was stocking the fabrique delice brand of foie gras mousse, which I find fairly disappointing, and I mentioned how much better the d'artagnan mousse is. She indicated that she will try to get d'artagnan pate when it cools down and there is less risk of loss due to the heat.

            1. re: Jwsel

              I am incredulous that anyone could be more knowledgeable than Norbert at The Cheese Shop.

              1. re: maudies5

                Where did I say Jenny is more knowledgeable than Norbert? I certainly did not mean to suggest it, because I learned most of what I know about cheese from Norbert.

                Having said that, I think Jenny is pretty knowledgeable and gave very good suggestions. No, she is not at Norbert's level, but I found her more knowledgeable than just anyone outside BH Cheese Store. She's a genius compared to the people at Artisan who: (1) told me that all of the cheese I bought should be eaten within 4 days or thrown away; and (2) tried to convince me that a gouda was actually manchego.

                I also am not saying go to Wally's instead of BH. For sheer breadth and maximum options, BH is superior. But I find Wallys to be convenient (especially with parking and the ability to avoid getting into and out of Beverly Hills) and I have always been able to find some of my favorite cheeses there (Gabriel Coulet La Petite Cave roquerfort, Lambchopper [which I don't think BH carries],)

                1. re: Jwsel

                  Jwsel, I agree with everything you have said. I think your comparison is quite accurate.

                  I, too, found Jenny to be quite open to her refreshing! I also enjoyed her enthusiasm for what she is doing.

                  Like you, I have not noticed the Lambchopper at the Cheese Shop of Beverly Hills; it was a nice discovery at Wally's.

                  We have a lot more cheeses to explore at Wally's -- never even got to anything soft -- and I look forward to our next sampling there!

                  Just as an aside: I have found Epicure Imports (the wholesale warehouse store in North Hollywood) to have a wonderful selection of cheeses when they are open to the public. One of my favorites there is their Rouzaire Gratte-Paille, a full-fat soft ripened cheese. Yes, their selection is limited, but most of our cheese purchases at Epicure Imports have been good-to-very good.

                  1. re: liu

                    I love the Epicure Imports sale! that said, I have definitely purchased cheeses there that had not been properly stored. If either of you have been to Andrew's Cheese Store, how does Wally's compare?

                    1. re: mollyomormon

                      Hi, mollyomormon.
                      I have been to Andrew's, but it was just weeks after they opened their doors. Andrew's seems to carry quite a few good cheeses. At the time, I was, however, not drawn in to purchasing anything...or even sampling anything. I can't quite remember why the feeling was a little "cold."

                      In contrast, I was immediately taken in upon entering Wally's. Jenny was captivating with her enthusiasm and personal focus. She also cleared away all distraction (other cheeses that might not "wow" us) and was able to offer us exactly what we like...that's a skill!

                      I don't want to be unfair to Andrew's Cheese Store; truly, it might have been -- and probably was! -- more about me and my receptive mood at that moment than about Andrew's cheeses. If convenient, I would definitely urge you to check out Andrew's selection and report back. And even if it is not too convenient, I encourage you to give Wally's -- and specifically Jenny -- a serious visit.

                      1. re: liu

                        I am a huge fan of Andrew's and it's my regular cheese source, which is why I ask. It sounds as if he is a little slower to warm up than Jenny, but he is also one of those people whose enthusiasm and passion for cheese is contagious. One thing that I really love about Andrew's is that he provides a card with the name and description of each cheese you purchase which is great both for remembering what you bought when you got home and for remembering what to ask for during future visits. I'm definitely going to check out Jenny's, and hopefully you'll get a chance to revisit Andrew!

                        1. re: mollyomormon

                          Oh, mollyomormon, I like the idea of the name card with each cheese. Thanks for endorsing Andrew's Cheese Shop. I will keep your post in mind and revisit it soon!

                          Knowing how you like Andrew's, I am really interested in hearing about your experience at Wally's.

                          1. re: mollyomormon

                            I like the Cheese Counter at Surfas. Not a huge selection but the purveyors are very knowledgeable and they have some amazing cheese. Very low key. I like the ambiance very much and am always impressed with the recommendations. Also, they are very liberal about tasting. Surfas is now my go-to place for cheese.

                            1. re: maudies5

                              maudies5, I agree with you. Surfas cheese counter is solid. I have always been quite happy with our cheese purchases at Surfas. However, since our usual visits there are on Saturdays, the wait for purchasing cheese can be long. Nevertheless, the cheese guy that we usually see there is always patient and thorough with each customer.

                              1. re: liu

                                Agreed on Surfas. I have been impressed with the discoveries I made there thanks to guidance from staff who knows what's what.

                                It's not always about the most variety in a shop (in which case, BH Cheese Shop reigns). Smaller places with knowledgeable people make all the difference. I have not been to Wally's, and thank you for bringing it up here. It's now on my list!

                                In the same spirit, I would add Joan's on Third, with its tiny but very nice cheese counter, always staffed by good people. And, of course, the ubiquitous Laurent Bonjour without whom the Farmer's Market wouldn't have an actual native from one of the major cheese countries! Can't try anything off the truck, in his case, but there are often rare finds worth betting on based on his description.

          3. I agree that they are providing something important to the neighborhood. The service in the wine store sometimes leaves me a little cold, but I thought the service at the cheese counter was great, and I enjoyed the selection. Due to its size, I don't think it can match the cheese store in BH, but it more than holds it own and I'm glad to have it so close to where I live.

            1. Jenny is super cool!

              I've been buying cheese at Wally's for a number of years. Awesome selection and no crazy crowds, lines, etc.

              Let's keep it that way! ;)

              1. I found this shop because I buy wine from time to time at Wallys. Jenny is very helpful and very nice. I was a bit disappointed in one of the cheeses I purchased because when I got home, and uncovered it, I felt that piece that I had been given was old (and not in a good way). Personally, I think the BH cheeseshop, from the perspective of assortment, is better, though the wait at the BH shop can be frustrating. As a personal aside, I think both shops are overpriced, as most of the cheeses that we enjoy can be found at other locations, for less cost per pound. But when you got have that cheese, that only they carry, well, you've got to have it.