Wow, we could make all sorts of puns on the word "cheesy," but we're going to show restraint -- restraint we blessedly lacked as we sampled some of the best cheese menus around town. To see the fruits, or rather the curdling, of our labors, take a look at the places we tried, and be sure to let us know of others that we've missed so we can go and get some dairy loving.
AOC has made a name for itself with its interesting (and extensive) wine menu, as well as the variety of cheese it has to offer. Lactose intolerants will find the cheese section, divided as it is into the animals from which each cheese comes, very helpful, and full of choices they can savor. Best of all, you can even choose from the accompaniments, like quince paste, bacon, and Marcona almonds.
8022 West 3rd St., Los Angeles, CA 90048, (323) 653-6359
We can't tell you exactly what's on the menu at this celebrity favorite on Beverly, but that's only because the selections change frequently. However, we can tell you that the cheese and charcuterie plate is one of the best deals in town, and comes with all sorts of goodies like toasted raisin walnut bread, fig cake, quince paste, fresh fruits and spiced Marcona almonds.
7450 Beverly Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90036, (323) 930-9744
Though we've been warned that the portions have shrunk along with the GDP, we can't resist including our favorite Culver City wine bar on this list. That's because their cheese plates come in four different sizes: three for $11, five for $15, seven for $21, and ten for $30-though you'd have to work in a dairy to be able to handle that last one. The fromages come from all over the world, including France, Holland, Spain, Italy and Canada, though our favorite is the Cambazola, which is a soft blue-brie hybrid that is drizzled with white truffle honey.
3487 Main St., Culver City, CA 90232, (310) 836-9463
This is one of our new favorite spots in Mid-City, and it's easy to see why when you take a gander at their cheese menu, which usually clocks in with somewhere around 80 options. That would be overwhelming, except for the friendly but unobtrusive staff who will assemble your very own special cheese plate for you, complete with extras like dried currants and a spoonful of caramel. Stop in on Thursday-Saturdays for the specially flown-in burrata.
615 N. La Brea Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90036, (323) 939-1148
We thought the charcuterie at the communal seating/bar area was the main attraction until we tried a few of the cheeses, like the Lord of the Hundreds, which is made from sheep's milk and according to the menu, has hints of crushed almond. The cider-washed Graverstein Gold goat cheese is also fabulous, and those are just two of the 25 options, many of which are local (or at least Californian).
101 Wilshire Blvd., Santa Monica, CA 90401, (310) 319-3111
You'll never have the same cheese plate twice at Ford's. At least, not if you're smart. Ask your waiter to put together something special for you, or just go with the flow of wine from the bottle to your glass, and enjoy the diverse and ever-changing assortment.
9531 Culver Blvd., Culver City, CA 90232, (310) 202-1470
Chef/Owner Josiah Citrin might be a Los Angeles native, but his menu and his tastes are French all the way. You can tell because there's even a special cheese cart, and your server will hand-pick three for just the right creamy end to your tasting menu. That's what gets you some Michelin stars, we hear. The portions are generous, but for this price, they'd better be!
1104 Wilshire Blvd., Santa Monica, CA 90401, (310) 395-0881
Chef Octavio Becerra's Glendale wine bar and restaurant is making all the "Best of" lists this year, so it's no surprise that we include it here. That's not to say the honor is undue, though. Becerra earned his stripes at Patina, one of the only restos on this list with a dedicated fromageur, so no wonder he respects the cheese, and Palate even has what it calls a "cheese cellar." The menu regularly features over 50 artisanal cheeses from all over, but our favorite-at least the one with our favorite name-is the Stinking Bishop.
933 S. Brand Blvd., Glendale, CA 91204, (818) 662-9463
Sure, the flagship of the Patina Group might feel a little stuffy, even in its new-age digs at the Disney Concert Hall downtown, but fine cheese is best enjoyed in a rarefied environment, don't you think? Even if not, there's no arguing with the 70+ choices on the fromage menu, with most hailing from France and California, with just a few from Spain and England thrown in for good measure. We also give this particular cheese menu props since it was pioneered by "cheese wiz" and maître fromageur Andrew Steiner, who has since moved on to found his own eponymous cheese shop in Santa Monica.
141 S. Grand Ave. Los Angeles, CA 90012, (213) 972-3331
You never know what you're going to get when you accept the offer of a cheese plate (usually with about six choices) at Sona , but that's half the fun. One thing you can be sure of is that you'll try some cheeses you've never had before and won't have anywhere else in L.A., and that they'll come with complementary items like hazelnuts, sea salt, balsamic vinegar, and assorted dried fruits, each paired especially for certain cheeses.
401 N. La Cienega Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90048, (310) 659-7708