The Cheese Bar – Des Moines, IA

Each summer, we head north to Whalan, MN for a family reunion. This little pocket of paradise is something I’ve grown to love since (officially) joining the family in 2013. The lone downside, though, is the due-north drive on i35, so naturally we attempt to populate the commute with a couple stops to break things up.

Up until this year, the only stop beyond refueling was the SPAM museum in Austin, MN. It’s a delightful place, as is the town in which it resides, and I recommend it if you ever find yourself in the area. It’s also worth noting that Cate is the current (unofficial) SPAM-packing champion of the world. If you do check the SPAM Museum out, see if you can beat 1:27.

But now, back to the point of this post. We needed a lunch option beyond typical fast food joints to accompany the journey. Preferably, something cheesy, and, fortunately, we found one.

I hadn’t spent much time in Des Moines since I showed dogs as a youth, but now I’ll be revisiting it on an annual basis, and it’s all thanks to The Cheese Bar.

DSC00441

The Cheese Bar is as unique as it is cheesy, and pairs perfectly as the lunch spot on a long drive. It shares a building with a few other companies, including a yoga studio, which makes me imagine how perfect some baked feta would taste after an intense yoga sesh.

DSC00459

A neon sign lures you in from the street, communicating precisely that what your heart desires most is directly inside. Minimal and wood-based decor adorn the small restaurant, and a few long, community style tables occupy the floor. The bar features a long line of unlabeled beer taps against a massive subway-tiled backsplash. I still have no idea how they kept them all straight, but after ordering our drinks the bartender poured my Trellis Buster (Crooked Stave Artisan Beer Project) and Cate’s Liliko’i (Avery Brewing Co) with ease.

DSC00443

There didn’t seem to be a bad option on the menu, but since I had never had the chance to experience raclette, I opted for that. Cate, of course, had to take their classic grilled cheese with bacon for a spin. Both were delicious, and the things the folks around us selected all looked incredible, as well.

DSC00448

Although our stay was brief, The Cheese Bar left us full but wanting more, and we can’t wait to visit on our way north next year.

DSC00449

DSC00454

DSC00456

DSC00440

DSC00461

DSC00460

Westside Local’s cheese plate does not disappoint.

My body was yearning for another cheese plate. And KC was yearning for a new cheese plate review. So we took one for the team (with pleasure), and rolled out with our pooch to Westside Local.

Tucked away in one of KC’s cutest and quietest neighborhoods, Westside Local’s food and signature cocktails draw people in any day of the week. Farm to table dining with trendy urban decorations— you can’t not enjoy this place.

We sat on the patio and were immediately greeted with a dog bowl of water and FREE BONES?! Our girl was in heaven. D ordered an Old Fashioned, myself – the house red wine. Cheese plate had been ordered, now we patiently waited.

Laurie delivered our plate in a very timely manner. It… was… stunning!  Westside Local gets 5 out of 5 for presentation. The fresh nature-y look of the creamy cheese, fresh fruit, crispy bread, and garnishing all atop a thick dark-wooded platter. Straight outta the Shire y’all.

cheese, cheese plate, cheese review, westside local, kansas city

Hootie hooooo!!

So we read up on the names of the players in this cheese game going down on the patio. Our tastebuds were ready. Let’s do this.

First up:

Cottonwood Cheddar

cheese, cheese plate, cheese review, westside local, kansas city, cheddar

You cheddar believe it was amazing.

Cut into thick cubes, this dry aged white cheddar cheese was like seeing an old friend. With a creamy yellow hue, this cheese was good on or off the cracker chips. Cottonwood cheddar will never get old, thus making it dangerous for people with cheese addictions. My only qualm with this beautiful cube of cheddar was just that, it was a large cube. Making it awkward to eat with the crackers. Nonetheless, it was delicious.

Homemade Ricotta

cheese, cheese plate, cheese review, westside local, kansas city, ricotta

My favorite DIY is DIY formaggio.

I did NOT expect to see ricotta this evening, what a surprise! Westside Local makes their own peppered ricotta, shaped like mashed potatoes with a pool of olive oil in the middle. Easy to spread on a cracker, slightly cooled. I’m not the world’s biggest ricotta fan, but DIY stuff is dope. So points for that.

A Green Dirt Farm Brie-Type Cheese

cheese, cheese plate, cheese review, westside local, kansas city, brie

Just brie yourself.

While we were never able to figure out its exact name, we can confidently say it was a sheep cheese (if its from Green Dirt) and its consistency was that similar to a brie. This cheese desperately needed its honey counterpart, bringing the sweet to the salt from the cracker. The honey was a must— the yin to it’s yang.

Other honorable mentions would definitely have to be the fresh fruit all up in the middle of the board. Delicious, and quickly devoured. The Farm to Market cracker chips were good, but not great. I was hoping they would crumble and crack with every bite, but they weren’t as crispy as I was hoping.

cheese, cheese plate, cheese review, westside local, kansas city

El fin!

We’re always looking for dog friendly patios around KC, and Westside Local set the bar pretty damn high. They even brought out fresh bacon for her while we waited for our check! Westside Local has been my requested birthday spot for the past few years, so my expectations were high for this cheese plater. For $14, you get your money’s worth that is for damn sure. If your looking for a filling snack in a dope atmosphere, Westside Local is where you need to be.

See where it falls on our list of KC’s Best Cheese Plates!

cheese, cheese plate, cheese review, westside local, kansas city

Midi Approved Cheese Platter.

And a Very Happy National Cheese Lovers Day To All

Cheese Plate Harry's KC

Today is an important day. Some (we) may argue it’s THE MOST important day of the year.

Friends, colleagues, family, and everyone. Today, we come together to celebrate National Cheese Lovers Day.

We wish you the best and hope cheese finds its way to your stomachs very soon.

If you’re in KC, try the plate above from Harry’s Bar and Tables in Westport, or head over to The Farmhouse in the River Market for their plate (we just reviewed it), or do both!

The point is, guys, just get out there and eat some good cheese with some good people. Talk rubbish and memories, share some laughs, and enjoy yourselves.

Yours,

D & C

Cheese Pizza Eno's Dallas

This delicious pie is from Eno’s Pizza Tavern in Dallas’ Bishop Arts District.

Fromage from The Farmhouse

Spontaneity. It takes many forms and is enjoyed best in moderation. For some, it’s dreaded and avoided at all costs. For others, it’s a necessity utilized to combat the fatigue culminated from the work day. It’s likely clear which side I land on.

Friday was nearing with an absence of plans. This being the case, we seized the opportunity to review our first cheese plate. Naturally, I inquired the internet for some guidance, and I found myself conveniently reading This is KC’s brief-but-to-the-point bullet list on great local cheese plates. Cate and I don’t spend near enough time down at the River Market, so the decision was simple: We’d check out The Farmhouse.

IMG_3550.JPG

Dimly lit, we entered around 8:15. We were seated towards the back, obviously so we could conduct the intricate process of delicately stuffing our mouths with dairy products and  thinking deeply about each bite. Taylor, our delightful waitress, brought us our menus, but the decision had already been made. We’d be taking their Assorted Local Cheese Plate, priced just right at $13. With no idea what the assortment would entail, we anxiously awaited our plate over their house wine, Farmhouse Red. After a quarter-glass of wine’s time, the plate arrived:

IMG_3560.JPG

Four cheeses awaited our review, each beautifully and artistically placed – all surrounded with a wagon circle of sauce. Joining us was also a basket filled with pallet equalizers, which I enjoyed far too much. Following a brief introduction to the four, we dove in. Here’s how they tasted. We’re working from left to right in the picture.

Herbed Goat
I would categorize this one as a spreadable goat. We decorated the crackers with it, adding some crunch to the already powerful flavor. The Herbed Goat packed an addictive punch, suggesting only a few tastes would suffice. Fortunately, the portion was perfect. I would have eaten too much had there been more. Whipped and fluffy, this stuff wasn’t crumbling anywhere.

Tillamook Cheddar
Easy to cut, soft but holds its form. Soft yellow color suggests its a cheddar you’ve met before, and the taste greets you like a drink after a long day. The world would be a better place if more people were like this cheese. Cate says a good cheddar hits the sweet spot – located by taking your pointer fingers and touching  your “jaw joint,” then by moving your fingers towards your chin about one knuckle’s length. That’s the sweet spot. That’s how you KNOW. This one resided here.

Finally, a delicious honey butter enhanced the experience. Fantastic.

Dirt Lover Goat
This one looks like a brie at first until the knife cuts. Eat with the rind – that adds flavor. Dirt lover rind is coated with vegetable ash, giving it an old-world flavor and a unique look. Very easy on the eyes for a cheese platter viewer . Odorless and very soft. Just like cotton candy, it’s there and gone.

Prairie Tom Sheep Cheese
The plate finished with my first-ever sheep cheese experience. The two, small triangles are all you need. This stuff stank, but it stank just right. It’s very odd finding such an odd smell so enticing.

IMG_3552.JPG

The Farmhouse won us over. After finishing the plate, we sat back and enjoyed the environment. Art hung haphazardly from the walls, provoking questions and conversation. We found ourselves with another glass of Farmhouse Red. Looking around, you can tell the appreciation The Farmhouse has for it’s local partners. Proudly listed on a large chalkboard on a middle wall, we were able to see the places from which our cheese originated.

Being the first plate we’ve reviewed, The Farmhouse’s Assorted Local Cheese Plate is ranked #1 on our KC-based Cheese Plates. For how long it holds it’s dominance is yet to be seen. We’ll all find out in February, when we hit our next shop’s plate. Location TBD.

We both learned a lot during the experience, including the fact that spontaneity, at least in our lives, takes the the form of a cheese plate. We also need to get over the self-inflicted awkwardness that comes with taking multiple photos of cheese in public.

As always, thanks for taking the time to join us. Until next time.

-D

IMG_3559.JPG

IMG_3555.JPG

IMG_3554.JPG

IMG_3556.JPG

IMG_3557.JPG

IMG_3562.JPG

Sense of community from farm to table.

IMG_3551.JPG