CHEESE BAR - Des Moines
Every once in a while (actually it's v often) I enjoy seeing, tasting, and experiencing what other people have created with their culinary abilities. Since it is usually me serving up food and drink to others, this is a nice change of pace.
I could go on (and probably will throughout this blog) about why I adore restaurants. They are a miraculous reaction of combining passion, ideas, hard work, and risk. They create memories, inspiration, and are even capable of fostering a space that feels like home. One of my recent favorites, is the Cheese Bar in Des Moines, Iowa.
As you approach the Cheese Bar, a large, glass barrier is all that separates you from a menu based on CHEESE. You effortlessly open the glass door and only find two tables in the whole restaurant. YA. ONLY TWO. They are long tables that stretch across the whole restaurant and are accompanied by long benches and many chairs. This is all of a sudden not only a place you can spend eating questionable amounts of cheese, but getting to know others.
They don't take reservations - which I totally admire. Although reservations can be really important for special occasions, restaurants tend to operate more efficiently if they don't take them. And just because someone might be more organized than you, does that mean they should be get first dibs on a dope eating experience? I'm also a big fan of waiting for a table. It opens up the opportunity to get a drink at the bar, ask some questions, and people/food watch as you're waiting. No dining experience should ever be in THAT much of a rush! Stay and enjoy, that's what the restaurant wants you to do.
When seated at the Cheese Bar, it's so enticing to see what your cheese-loving neighbor orders. A couple next to me ordered this over-the-top looking cheese board and it was love at first sight. The light easily comes to the table through the glass walls and onto the table to expose: wedges and chunks of cheese, accompanied by ribbons of house-prepared meats, with their best friends marcona almonds, cornichons, and tiny breads. They saw me staring, and they saw my camera, and told me I could take a photo if I wanted. They were sipping on wine in between laughs with friends and the energy was contagious.
Obviously, the best part about this place is that the whole menu is based on cheese. Click on the link above to get to the menu! Everything on the menu INCLUDES CHEESE, like salads and sandwiches. They have a whole section dedicated to different types of grilled cheese and cheese boards like nothing I have ever seen before.
HERE'S WHAT I GOT:
THE MAC & CHEESE: It's baked in a cast iron dish that makes you want to give it a hug. The sauce gets nestled into the caves of noodle that make you feel like you're eating a tiny burrito that's only filled with melty cheese. Tiny breadcrumbs bool on top to give it that slight texture making you want more.
THE GRILLED CHEESE: The Royal grilled cheese also joined us for the meal: ham, bacon, mornay sauce, and an egg. A literal egg made this thing a party. Mornay sauce is a basic white sauce with gruyere cheese added. It gives it a sweet/salty balance that lays perfectly on top of this crispy sandwich. The crunch on this thing (although covered in sauce) is beyond me. It's a perfect golden brown - I even sent out Snapchats of myself eating this thing so people could HEAR it.
THE DESSERT: The meal was finished off with yes, more cheese. An apple and goat cheese tart landed on our table via hands of the chef. They explained each dish as they put it down and I could hardly keep my fork (or my face) from bulldozing into it before he put it on the table. But, luckily I was able to refrain and even take a picture for you. It was subtly sweet from the apples, savory from the goat cheese that was so soft and creamy, and a lil spice was added with some ginger ice cream.
The food, the service, and the atmosphere at the Cheese Bar will not disappoint. They are attentive with everything, even your jars of water served out of a milk jug. Old school pictures of the cheese making process are distributed across the wall. Our server even let us know that the man in the photo behind us was making the cheese we had just ordered!
Let me know what you get!