Magazine article The New Yorker

Food & Drink

Magazine article The New Yorker

Food & Drink

Article excerpt



Murray's Cheese Bar

264 Bleecker St. (646-476-8882)

If you are the kind of person who, upon hearing that there exists something called "buffalo cheese curds," can think of nothing else until you eat them, then Murray's Cheese Bar is for you. This narrow restaurant, cozy-modern with low light and reclaimed wood, opened in 2012, as a kind of annex to the famous Murray's Cheese Shop, two doors down in the heart of the West Village. The store, established in 1940, was bought by a local businessman in the early nineties and, in 2011, moved across the street from its original tiny corner location into a vast cheese-selling paradise. The new shop was snazzy, for sure, but it managed to keep the original's cheese-geek optimism alive, offering tastes of obscure delights and inspiring party platters anew, while bulking up with hundreds of fancy, Murray's-approved pantry products and in-store creations such as house-made pastas and charred broccoli salad. The restaurant was a natural extension of the business--but could it actually be fun? Would too much cheese end up killing the party?

It turns out that there is no such thing as too much cheese. While ordering at the Cheese Bar might require some serious self-restraint, it's possible to keep it simple. A fine meal can be made of fondue (the classic Gruyere with kirsch, accompanied by bread, gherkins, pickled cipollini, and garlicky pepperoni) and sliders (juicy grass-fed patties on slightly sweet brioche buns). For the pro-affinage connoisseur, the servers are equipped to offer a friendly discourse, say, on the "chef's choice" cheeses topping the burgers, such as Cornelia, "a really good melting cheese, like a funky Monterey Jack, with a washed rind from upstate." The vegetables, for the most part, have been bombed, for good measure, with salt or some kind of acid or cheese, or all three: charred radishes (with kimchi labneh), kale sprouts (with Sardinian Podda Classico), shishito peppers (with fennel pollen). Pulled-pork-pimento macaroni and cheese, however, goes several steps too far.

Happy hour is popular, even though there aren't really deals (the beers are a bit cheaper, but otherwise prices are the same). That's the time to order those buffalo cheese curds, fried Wisconsin-cheddar morsels doused in a tangy butter-and-hot-sauce concoction. …

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