Murray’s Cheese Bar

264 Bleecker StNew York, NY 10014 • (646) 476-8882 • murrayscheesebar.com

Murray’s has been a New York icon for more years than the aged cheddar in their cheese cases. But more recently they decided to take that expertise and run with it, opening up a restaurant just a few doors down where the cheese flows like wine, or rather in tandem with it.

Our story begins with a robust, spicy blend of Grenache and Syrah by the glass. It was perfect for the cheesy tour de force that lied ahead, starting with the grilled artichokes, which wasn’t all that cheesy to be honest, but holy cow was it good, drizzled with an alici aioli (alici is an Italian fish sauce made from anchovies, in case you were thinking of googling it like I just did).

Equally impressive, and much cheesier, were the stuffed zucchini blossoms filled with spiced cream cheese, roasted corn and placed over a light yogurt sauce. Just killer.

But speaking of deadly, the Mac & Cheese was the real showstopper, making my Ultimate list with flying colors… and cheeses. My daughter technically ordered it, but I got all Daniel Day Lewis (circa There Will be Blood) on her and I “drank her milkshake.”

The sliders were also a solid yum, leading me to believe that the burgers are most likely awesome as well. And speaking of the A-word, the charcuterie and cheese plate is all that and then some. Obviously a lot rides on which meats and cheeses you choose, but you can never go wrong with the sweet San Daniele or the milky double cream. Also adding to the awesome are the inspired accouterments like the maple shavings. A stroke of delicousness!

Another worthy get is the grilled cheese, although I must admit I found the sandwich itself to be shockingly boring. What makes up for it in spades, however, is the kickass, sharp-ass tomato soup. Just dip the mediocre sammy in that red fountain of youth and your taste buds will feel like they’re twenty-one again, unless you’re younger than 21, in which case I’m not sure what the math would be?

Lastly, for dessert, while I appreciate the attempt to recreate iconic dishes with cheese, the Ch-mores fall miserably short and lack the contrast of flavors and textures that make S’mores so wonderful. Instead, the Ch’mores wind both looking and tasting like a cheesy blob. It was the biggest miss of the night and the primary reason I am docking a knife. Apart from that, I’d say it is a perfect stop amidst a Bleeker shopping spree, or for an early dinner with kids that doesn’t compromise for the adults.

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L’Artusi

228 W 10th St. New York, NY 10014(212) 255-5757lartusi.com

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I took the wife here for her birthday and I am pleased to say it turned out to be a happy one. And in no small part to the meal and the service.

Initially, however, we got off to a bumpy start. First, because the decor left something to be desired. Much more casual than I think we expected. And second because they tried to seat us downstairs by the bar. Fortunately the upstairs wasn’t full yet, so we moved up there, and it is MUCH nicer.

Next came the appetizers: The roasted mushrooms (which came highly Yelped) and the halibut ceviche. The ceviche was unfortunately lack-luster and worse still, a tad fishy. As for the roasted mushrooms, while good, they were nothing compared to the hype they reap.

But then came the wine, recommended by our server- And it was excellent. So complex for a white- and carried us through every course, including dessert. Very rare for a wine to be so diverse. It was called Coenobium Rusticum ’09. And it was extremely reasonable by NYC standards.

And then the tagliatelle bolognese hit the table and mama mia that’s some tasty pasta! SOOO fresh. Perfectly cooked. Made us wish all we gotten was pasta.

Another standout was the roasted corn side. Very good, but not like the pasta.

Two other dishes were also good, but not great: the octopus and the sweet breads.

But L’Artusi definitely ended strong with the Hazelnut tart and salted caramel ice cream. You’ll never want to brush your teeth again.

4 teeth