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Cheesetique Wine Bar, Jill Erber in Several Virginia Locations


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If anyone else is as eager as I am to check out the wine & cheese bar, an employee this weekend said the target date to open is the 25th. Caught a peek behind the curtain while passing by one evening - the space looks great with a long, inviting bar. Oh, and rumor is the store part will be open late on bar nights, so you'll be able to pick up cheeses "after hours" even if you don't stay for drinks.

- a Cheesetique groupie

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The Cheese & Wine Bar is now open Tuesday-Saturday 5 PM - 9 PM. We will be expanding those hours soon. At the bar, you can get cheese boards, charcuterie boards, entrees, desserts. There are also a number of wines and beers by the glass or bottle. This space will also double as our classroom space on Sundays and Mondays. We will do special events, as well. Just ask!

Hope to see you all soon-

Jill

Thanks! Expanded Saturday hours would be great!

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Thanks! Expanded Saturday hours would be great!

From the last newsletter, the cheese bar is now open till 10 on Friday and Saturday nights - and now serving wine flights.

They have a great menu of tasty sounding paninis, soups and salads, but I've only focused on the cheese and charcuterie thus far. Some recent favorites: Nevat, a slightly sweet, delicate and creamy Spanish goat cheese, and the stinky and luscious Grayson (Virginia washed-rind, cow's milk). The spicy citrus olives, one of the optional accompaniments, are divine.

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went last saturday night on a whim after looking at some NoVA real estate. Very comfortable atmosphere, great tunes in the background, lovely service, and, most of all, terrific wine and great cheese. As this was just a drop in, we only went for the three cheese plate - got the Stilton, the Humbolt Fog, and an Italian cheese we'd never had before - Menage? all were tasty, and obviously well-handled. Nice bread selection, and I think that the sweet on the plate was quince paste, though I could be wrong about that. Though we were first-timers, they made us feel quite welcome and we could easily have curled up there for hours.

We look forward to a return visit.

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Needed to pick up a few things here on Saturday, so decided to sit at the bar and have lunch too. Needless to say, the grilled cheese here is one of the best around. Taleggio and fontina on good bread with onion jam. It also came with a salad (get the house made blue cheese dressing) and a cup of gazpacho. Only $10.

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Hi, all!

For those of you who like to shop at Cheesetique on the weekends, we are now open for lunch on Friday/Saturday (11 AM - 2:30 PM) and Sunday (noon - 2:30 PM). The menu is the same, but it has been expanded to include more salads and sanwiches.

Thank you all for your support!

Jill

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We had a lovely dinner tonight at Cheestique with the two kiddies. Adult sandwiches for the adults and a very tasty kids' grilled cheese (with very cute kids cups for water/milk). The food was very nice and the service was beyond accomodating. And, this was before the 13-month old actually knocked over a table outside sending glass everywhere. The two servers could not have been nicer about it, and we're very grateful. We'll return, presumably sans kids...

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I know I am going to be sorry for spreading the word, but I feel it is my responsibility as a DR.com member to let you know about the wonderful classes being offered at Cheesetique. Monday night I attended my second class here: Leaf-wrapped Cheeses. In August, I attended the Summer Cheeses class. Both were outstanding.

The class begins with the exuberant and very knowledge cheese lady, Jill, lecturing about the cheeses and wines to be enjoyed. [Note: eat a little something before you arrive. It is torture if you haven't eaten since lunchtime.] Each person is seated with a plate of roughly ten cheeses, and is later served two (or so) samples of wine. Jill talks about the different cheeses and provides handouts with lots of information. If you've ever met Jill, you can imagine how enjoyable her discussions are. You learn about the making of the cheeses, how to serve it, and you also get history lessons.

Get on Jill's mailing list and you'll get her newsletter and info about upcoming classes. It now requires lightning-fast reflexes to secure a spot in a class, so don't delay. Maybe Jill will be willing to offer a dr.com class next time around. The cost for Monday's class was $35, which you pay in advance via paypal.

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I know I am going to be sorry for spreading the word, but I feel it is my responsibility as a DR.com member to let you know about the wonderful classes being offered at Cheesetique. Monday night I attended my second class here: Leaf-wrapped Cheeses. In August, I attended the Summer Cheeses class. Both were outstanding.

The class begins with the exuberant and very knowledge cheese lady, Jill, lecturing about the cheeses and wines to be enjoyed. [Note: eat a little something before you arrive. It is torture if you haven't eaten since lunchtime.] Each person is seated with a plate of roughly ten cheeses, and is later served two (or so) samples of wine. Jill talks about the different cheeses and provides handouts with lots of information. If you've ever met Jill, you can imagine how enjoyable her discussions are. You learn about the making of the cheeses, how to serve it, and you also get history lessons.

Get on Jill's mailing list and you'll get her newsletter and info about upcoming classes. It now requires lightning-fast reflexes to secure a spot in a class, so don't delay. Maybe Jill will be willing to offer a dr.com class next time around. The cost for Monday's class was $35, which you pay in advance via paypal.

The classes are great and now even better since they moved into the new space and have more room. Not to mention that they can now have wine with the classes.
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The classes are great and now even better since they moved into the new space and have more room. Not to mention that they can now have wine with the classes.

I'll give a caveat here. I like the wine available with the classes, but I wish there would be a non-wine option available at a lower cost. Also, while the new space is much better for the classes, I liked the communal feel of the old place. With the tables now all 2-tops and 4-tops, you don't get to converse with anyone other than the folks you brought with you.

Minor nits. Love the new place, love the classes.

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Just a quick update to note that tasting classes are back in full effect at Cheesetique. A recent "American Winners" event featured ten award-winning selections from the American Cheese Society Conference in Austin. Caymus Conundrum and Hedges CMS Red (both '07) provided tasting accompaniment.

One star of the evening was Best in Show Rogue River Blue. This raw cow's milk, cave-aged, hand-crafted, wrapped in Pear-brandy soaked grape leaves delicacy from Oregon offered a rare moment of wonder.

*rennet-induced swoon*

Cheesetique's $40 classes still fill up in a heartbeat, but the good news is the registration process is now automated. The best way to learn about the upcoming schedule is to keep an eye on the website, sign up for the mailing list, and plan to crash elbows with me on the way through the e-registration gate.

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During my final errands to get ready for Christmas I took some time to have lunch at Cheesetique and enjoyed a very tasty ham, turkey, and swiss sandwich. There were also having their Wednesday special, $5/glass house red or white. My only complaint, and one that I have with many places in the area, is that they serve the red wine way to warm. Why do places have to leave the bottles of red on the counter?

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I am a Del Ray resident, and I love having such a well-stocked cheese shop in my neighorhood. But while I have had great experiences with the staff who work behind the cheese counter, I have now had three bad experiences in the restaurant. Not with the food, which I think is good, but with the service. On each occassion I was there with a different person, and each person I brought was equally affronted by the terrible service (so I know it wasn't me!). In one instance, we had a waiter tell us: "I don't know anything about the cheeses. I actually quit last week." In another, we experienced an incredibly rude host. I won't elaborate with the details, but her behavior was atrocious. The other patrons in line were all talking about how rude she was. And for a final attempt (this is how much I love cheese) I went back with my husband and the waiter actually sneered at us when we tried to ask a question about one of the wines on the glass list. Has anyone else had this kind of trouble there, or have I just had a lot of really bad luck? I really do hope I happened to catch them on three bad nights.

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I am a Del Ray resident, and I love having such a well-stocked cheese shop in my neighorhood. But while I have had great experiences with the staff who work behind the cheese counter, I have now had three bad experiences in the restaurant. Not with the food, which I think is good, but with the service. On each occassion I was there with a different person, and each person I brought was equally affronted by the terrible service (so I know it wasn't me!). In one instance, we had a waiter tell us: "I don't know anything about the cheeses. I actually quit last week." In another, we experienced an incredibly rude host. I won't elaborate with the details, but her behavior was atrocious. The other patrons in line were all talking about how rude she was. And for a final attempt (this is how much I love cheese) I went back with my husband and the waiter actually sneered at us when we tried to ask a question about one of the wines on the glass list. Has anyone else had this kind of trouble there, or have I just had a lot of really bad luck? I really do hope I happened to catch them on three bad nights.

I've been going to Cheesetique since it opened, as a "front of the house" customer. I've never experienced bad service, in fact, I've been helped so much in my decision making process. It's such a shame the restaurant is having problems with rude staff; what a disconnect.

You should contact Jill Erber, the owner, as I'm certain she would want to know of your dissatisfaction. She's also a DR member, so perhaps you can PM her.

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I've been going to Cheesetique since it opened, as a "front of the house" customer. I've never experienced bad service, in fact, I've been helped so much in my decision making process. It's such a shame the restaurant is having problems with rude staff; what a disconnect.

You should contact Jill Erber, the owner, as I'm certain she would want to know of your dissatisfaction. She's also a DR member, so perhaps you can PM her.

Thanks for the suggestion! Yes, I really love the front-of-house staff. There is one girl in particular who has a great palate for cheese and is so helpful and nice. I considered writing the owner after the last of the three terrible dining experiences - we were so upset by the rude host that we actually left, as did a couple of other people in line, and I wondered if the owner was aware of her wait staff's behavior. I will try to reach Jill and let her know.

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Thanks for the suggestion! Yes, I really love the front-of-house staff. There is one girl in particular who has a great palate for cheese and is so helpful and nice. I considered writing the owner after the last of the three terrible dining experiences - we were so upset by the rude host that we actually left, as did a couple of other people in line, and I wondered if the owner was aware of her wait staff's behavior. I will try to reach Jill and let her know.

I once PM'd Jill with a complaint, and she responded quickly and graciously.

And, he added quickly, none of my occasional visits (I live in DC, and so pass through infrequently) have been less than fulfilling.

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To address the service comments: we were at Cheesetique a couple of weekends ago. It was during restaurant week. We arrived around 4 and sat at the bar. During our time there, I had the white wine flight followed by a glass of red, my friend had 2 glasses of red, and we shared a large cheese board (I think 3 cheeses and 2 meats). I was less than impressed with the service throughout. No one was outright rude, but we sat at the bar for quite some time being ignored before anyone asked if we wanted a drink and typically we had to flag someone down when we wanted something else. Generally, the staff - again, while not rude - was not particularly friendly or helpful. We live in Laurel and were in the area, but not in a hurry so it didn't bother me to a great extent but for it to become my friendly neighborhood place, the staff would probably need to warm up a bit (and maybe they do if you come in more frequently). FYI, we were there early so it wasn't busy when we arrived so that wasn't the reason for us being ignored.

While the wines didn't impress (they were all fine, just didn't wow us), the cheese and meats were delicious. I ended up purchasing the sausage that we had, and the pate that we had was one of the best I've had. All 3 cheeses were excellent - again, I ended up taking one of them home with me (along with some others that we didn't try on the cheese board of course). If I lived in the area, I would definitely stop in frequently to patronize the front of the house.

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^ I guess not yet, but they are expanding into Arlington. Cheesetique to take over Curious Grape in Shirlington (ARLnow).

Interesting. It will be a great option for pre theater eating, but I wonder how it will do as a shopping destination. It will be equidistant for me, so my sense is that I'll continue to do my shopping in Del Ray with the option to also hit the butcher and farmers market.

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Dear Cheesetique--

Why the hell don't you have a MD location yet? Are we not worthy?

Thanks!

-PB

No, you are not... plus I can imagine that the arcane laws regarding retail alcohol sales by multi-branch establishments might also be a hindrance.

I for one an excited about the Shirlington location as it is much closer and easier to find parking than Del Ray. As for Curious Grape, the owners and employees were always quite nice, but I never understood why in a strip of restaurants they would close at 8:00 (is this because of some arcane Virginia law?).

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Interesting. It will be a great option for pre theater eating, but I wonder how it will do as a shopping destination. It will be equidistant for me, so my sense is that I'll continue to do my shopping in Del Ray with the option to also hit the butcher and farmers market.

What she said. We're a mile from Del Ray and a mile from Shirlington, and usually stop in Cheesetique when we are going somewhere else in Del Ray.

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2nd time in 3 months, walked in, waited....waited..waited for service at the cheese counter, 10 minutes later, and out the door. 3 staffers behind the counter,4 customers, and Ileave empty handed. I understand that its the Farmers Market morning in Del Ray as i should know since I live in Del Ray, but when customers taste out 6-7 cheeses, its time to move along. It doesn't mean I will never go back, but its frustrating.

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2nd time in 3 months, walked in, waited....waited..waited for service at the cheese counter, 10 minutes later, and out the door. 3 staffers behind the counter,4 customers, and Ileave empty handed. I understand that its the Farmers Market morning in Del Ray as i should know since I live in Del Ray, but when customers taste out 6-7 cheeses, its time to move along. It doesn't mean I will never go back, but its frustrating.

I can relate, although I had an "in and out" experience this morning that rivaled no other! Seriously, there have been times that I've come out to see that Mr. MV has grown a 5 o'clock shadow B)

You love the tasting, but it's hard waiting and the area can get a bit crowded. Nonetheless, today I got a nice finishing balsamic, sherry vinegar and a remnant of a French goat's cheese for $1.99 and went away very happy.

Some days you're luckier than others!

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WARNING: Do not read if you are lactose intolerant and don't ever cheat!

Have to agree full on with Don's dining guide modifier for Cheesetique; the one about it being a city treasure. And, that's why I really need to kick myself for not getting over to Del Ray as often as we make it to all other parts of Alexandria. Bearing it all, I love cheese and had never before been to Cheesetique until earlier this week. Shameful I know but part of my (weak) defense is I'd never before read anything particularly compelling about it. Of course, that means I hadn't read the dr thread. Anyway, earlier this week, it was a convenient stop so I went for an early lunch.

HEADLINE

With apologies to Cowgirl, Cheesetique is the best cheese shop in the greater DC area hands down. Though a bit smaller and without a cave or Julia Child as part of its history, Cheesetique reminded me more of Formaggio Kitchen in Cambridge, MA than anything within a hundred miles of the mall. As a restaurant or food-serving establishment, it is great for what it is: a more limited menu, centered on cheese with totally sensible and lovely additions. Absolutely criminal the 2nd location is going to...eegads...Shiriington and not into the District but I suppose I'm a bit biased (or just pragmatic as I like to think about it :) ).

VENUE

Love it as both cheese shop (and wine shop though I didn't really focus on that part of its business for this first visit) and cafe. I was a bit confused trying to figure out the setup online prior since a "wine bar" in the US doesn't always imply outdoor seating, which Cheesetique offers and of which I took advantage. Funny enough, there's no indication of outdoor seating on the cheesetique website that I could find though it is indicated on yelp. The small patio out front has 6 pr 7 tables with maybe double or triple the number of seats inside divided between counters, shared tables and smaller tables that surround the large and very well lit and appointed cheese cases. My only beef with Cheesetique is that it's not closer to our major population center downtown. C'mon! Cleveland Park is calling you ;)

SERVICE

Exactly what you'd hope a place that looks like this would offer. I spoke with maybe 4 or 5 of the staff to talk inside about some of the cheeses and then a couple of servers once seated outside. They were all very friendly, knowledgeable and genuinely enthusiastic about cheese! Go figure ;) I learned why what I thought might be my preferred cheese wasn't ideal for the grilled cheese I'd ordered. I sampled 3 or so of the maybe dozen different cheddars (have to write that once more: a dozen different cheddars! right there next to the Epoisses!!). They even let me tie up my dog outside where he slept contentedly. Basically, super nice and effective people which, as is so often the case, perfectly aligns with the products on offer.

FOOD

Wow! Did I mention that they have close to a DOZEN TYPES OF CHEDDAR ALONE?! I have no idea what the total number of cheese skus is but it has to be between 200 and 300 if I were betting. I'll offer just a couple of brief thoughts on the cheeses since my real experience here was lunch.

RANDOM CHEESE THOUGHTS

- they've got almost a dozen cheddars from Canada, the US, England and, crap, I don't know, probably a few other countries too. I'm probably more amazed by this than others will be. it's a stockholm syndrome thing. While I wouldn't blink an eye at this in London or New York, I'd just never seen so many here in the Capitol Region.

- their taleggio just looks different (and better) than any I've ever purchased from Whole Foods. C'mon to think of it, that's true for all the types they sell also available elsewhere.

- in this age of super stores and cost controls, there aren't many shops left that really work to merchandise their products well; these guys do with cool signage, lighting, temperature control and easy access to staff over and around the counters

- Love that they have a changing cheese menu with ten or so cheeses highlighted each week. This simplifies things for people (not like me) who'd otherwise be overwhelmed by so many different options. Also another example of smart merchandising.

- How cool would it be if they had some kind of "cheese tour" for cheese hounds who want to know more? Think the only option here now are cheese tastings for minimum 20 people. Hmmm, I wonder if enough DR types would be game to pay $55/head for a cheese tasting? Nah, probably not. ;)

LUNCH

As mentioned above, Cheesetique's menu is fairly limited and that's totally okay in my book. This is a great cheese/wine shop that happens to also serve food so anyone who complains too much about there not being a broader menu should be forced to inhale a few hundred grams of fresh limburger (yep, they have that too). Anyway, here's what I had. I didn't write down or keep the prices but, suffice to say, they're consistent with the menu online available here.

- Grilled Cheese! Of course, I had to get this here. I love (or more accurately loved) grill cheese like so many others growing up. And, as an adult, grew to love and occasionally make at home all manner of gourmet style grill cheeses using grills, panini presses, mustards, olive tapenades, pancetta, jamon serrano, summer heirloom tomato, etc, etc.. I stuck with the basic grilled cheese with prairie cheddar ("it melts the best") on toasted sourdough. All five or six of the other interesting sandwiches come on sourdough, as was explained to me (only the first one says so on the menu). It came with the grill marks made by a two sided grill press and all the cheddar perfectly melted and tangy.

- Tomato Soup. They suggest this be paired with a Nebbiolo, one of my favorite Italian grapes but, at 11:30 in the morning and a meeting to go to afterward, couldn't bring myself to do it (shameful again, I know). Made with a bit of cream, this was also a very, very nice tomato soup that paired perfectly with the above grilled cheese. My gut says it would have paired perfectly with any of the other grilled cheeses but I can't yet speak for those.

- Side greens with Shallot vinaigrette: This was like most everything at Cheestique which I was served. Relatively simple in construction but with excellent quality inputs and super technique that yielded wonderful and cohesive flavor. Included in the (low) price of the grilled cheese.

Though pretty full at this point, I took one for the team and also tried their version of a....

- Chocolate Pudding. I think this was maybe five bucks? More a mousse but, again, made right and with the right stuff. I didn't ask what kind of cocoa was in this but could tell it was a good one. Light, rich, luscious...a perfect end to the lunch.

VALUE

Amazingly, Cheesetique actually isn't very expensive. Wish I'd captured/written down some of the prices but I found myself murmuring "really?" alot to myself when checking out some of the cheeses on display and on the menu. I know some of the pricing for mainstays like Reggiano, Taleggio, Epoisses, good Cheddars, etc at places like Whole Foods or Calvert Woodley. Cheesetique is competitive (and usually a bit less) across the board (pun intended). My lunch was around $20 all in.

BOTTOM LINE

This is THE PLACE for cheese in our region. As I left Cheesetique thinking about the questions I didn't ask and things I didn't try:

- is this where the area's best mozzarella resides and how many of those are on offer air freighted from Italy?

- the charcuterie! How did I neglect to order some of the many great Euro hams, salamis and sausages?

- there were some other things on the menu aside from the grilled cheeses but, blinded by what I set out to order, I can't even tell you what there was?

- what can they tell us about the raging unpasteurized/pasteurized controversy here in America? How do we get the FDA to see the light?!

...I resolved to go back soon and often. Cheese has to be good for us, right? It simply has to be. I'm sure 10 minutes on Google can yield a study about how cheese (and wine for that matter) extend lifespans at least 15 years, on average. It's "real food" and, as cheese goes, it doesn't get much more real than Cheesetique. If you also love cheese...and have lived in this area for at least a few years...and have never made the trip over to Del Ray...fess up as I have and go. You'll feel much better. I do.

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The Shirlington location is now open.

We have stopped in a few times the past few days to window shop. A lovely space, smaller than Del Ray, with immensely cheerful staff.

Incoming addition to the Multiple Locations Dining Guide....and welcome to the latest goat, sheep, and cow residents of Shirlington!

*cheer*

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The Shirlington location is now open.

We have stopped in a few times the past few days to window shop. A lovely space, smaller than Del Ray, with immensely cheerful staff.

Incoming addition to the Multiple Locations Dining Guide....and welcome to the latest goat, sheep, and cow residents of Shirlington!

*cheer*

Shirlington? Where's Shirlington?

Uh, DC? Big city. Lots of folks with disposable income. Similarly lots of cheese hounds. Not a lot of great cheese shops. Nation's capitol. Hello? :)

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The family - my parents, brother and sister-in-law, and I - went to the Del Ray Cheesetique for lunch on Friday. It was my first time in any of the locations.

When we walked in we were a bit nervous about them sitting five of us but were surprised to see how big the back room was. It was a bit loud, mostly due to some construction next door. Several people left due to it.

And, to be honest, it was one of the best lunches I've had in a long time. For $10 I got an awesome, too big for me to finish grilled pimento cheese sandwich with a vinegar-y potato salad that cut through the richness of the cheese perfectly. Everybody loved what they got - my mom got a blue cheese and mushroom sandwich, my brother a cheese steak, my dad the same as me but with bacon, and I forgot what the s-i-l had. Almost all the meals were around $10.

Afterwards we picked up some wine - you get 10% off your same day purchase if you eat there.

We had great service and great food. Now that my brother and s-i-l live closer to Del Ray, I can't wait to hit it again.

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Caphe Banh Mi, I believe.  It's not the best Vietnamese I've had, but it's probably my favorite of any Asian cuisine in the Old Town area (with the possible exception of Momo Sushi, although in practice if we get sushi we usually end up in Bonsai II in Crystal City, to also get udon).

And I have to agree with someone's previously expressed sentiment - I live in Del Ray, and yet I never seem to eat anyplace in my own neighborhood except for Del Ray Pizzeria (and there never for the pizza - entrees, sandwiches, and Monday night trivia).

Any opinions on Cheesetique's eat-in options?  I just looked at the menu, and it was more diverse than I was expecting.

I used to go to Cheestique pretty frequently for happy hour and really liked their eat in options, I can't imagine it would have changed dramatically, as the menu didn't seem to change a lot.  Was one of my favorite little spots in Del Ray.

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Was in last night for happy hour.  Had two glasses of Sancerre and split a meat and cheeseboard with a friend.  Had their mousse, which was lovely.  Lomo was ok, but could have left this one out.  I remember the Prima Donna cheese which was excellent.  We had two others which were also good, but I can't remember their names.  One a hard aged cheese and another a soft rined brie like cheese.  Good service and food.  Brought us extra crackers and baquette without asking when we were getting low, very pleasant.  If only we had gotten there in time to grab a patio seat!

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3 minutes ago, beachgirl54 said:

Yay, yay, YAY!

Parking, parking, PARKING! :(

Part of me wants to say that it's a shame having this so close to Arrowine, but maybe the competition will keep the prices down some.

It *sucks* that cheese in the U.S. has become a luxury item.

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