Cheese plates–when they’re bad, they truly are horrid. Few culinary choices slam the brakes on a well-cultivated atmosphere like cheap, charmless cheeses. But raise the bar a bit, and even the most mediocre platter will bear the Miss Congeniality sash at parties, fêtes, and tête-à-têtes. No matter the season, there’s just something about the simple, straightforward cheese plate that feels communal. Like a campsite fire, these creamy, fruity beauties beg you to plunder their offerings while you lean in closer to enjoy a conversation with friends, family, or your future belle or beau. These seven venues put out some heavenly cheese plates that don’t stink (unless you want them to).
Man (and woman) does not live on delicious, crusty bread alone. He (or she) also needs some nectar-like honey and a choice of cheeses from places ranging from right-down-the-road to Wisconsin and Holland. If you can, try the sheep’s milk Gouda. Ewe deserve to live a little.
601 W. 6th St., 992-0204, thehaddington.com
Meats and cheeses, if you pleases. Wedge your way into Mulberry’s tiny, chic space for an array of cheeses and meats. You can invite your vegetarian friends if you like; the more the merrier! But give them fair warning. They’ll be more than welcome to eat some of your Grano Padano and Irish blue, but they’ll be dangerously close to slipping into the Soppressata and salami zone, too.
360 Nueces St., 320-0297, mulberryaustin.com
SIMPLICITY WINE & EATS
The choice isn’t all that simple at Simplicity. Three seasonal fruits and three fresh fruits? Or maybe an assortment of cheeses and sausages. What- ever feels right, these small plates are tasty and designed to accompany your favorite wine. Don’t be surprised when they arrive on compostable, eco-friendly disposable plates. The cheese may contribute to your waist, but the waste created at Simplicity is minimal.
4801 Burnet Rd., 419-0200, simplicitywinebar.com
OPA! COFFEE & WINE BAR
In those magical moments when the Austin air temperature is lower than your own body temp, Opa! offers an opportunity to slink away from the soot-heavy streets and retreat under an old oak with a glass of wine, a plate of cheese, and the unique atmosphere only a dark sky, twinkly white lights, and the odd belly dancer can create.
2050 S. Lamar Blvd., 326-8742, opacoffeewine.com
VIOLET CROWN CINEMA
Oh, Antonelli’s. You really are becoming synonymous with cheese in Aus- tin. A little bit different and a little bit precious, Violet Crown cinema is a perfect showcase for Antonelli’s revolving cheese choices, with kicky details like Dublin Dr Pepper, offbeat movies, and a great location. Forget you, popcorn.
434 W. 2nd St., 495-9600, violetcrowncinema.com
It’s hard to think about the Gibson Bar’s Wine Wednesday without getting a little giddy. Purchase a bottle of wine or champagne and, abracadabra, a free plate of bread, berries, and some delightful cheeses from Antonelli’s amazing little cheese shop appears.
1109 S. Lamar Blvd., 386-1345, gibsonaustin.com
CAFE BISTRO AT NORDSTROM
In the 1980s, denim jackets sported buttons and pins with important messages. Some asked, “Are we having fun yet?” Some encouraged us to “Shop ‘til you drop.” When you find yourself no longer able to shop through the pain, spend a moment in the cafe bistro, where you can gobble down a fruit, cheese, and cracker plate with Cheddar, jack, strawberries and grapes. It is, as the button says, “Totally awesome.”
2901 Capital of Texas Hwy S., 691-3500, about.nordstrom.com