To say that Sarah Dvorak (Jardiniere) has an intense love affair with cheese would be an understatement. After traveling the US visiting artisan fromageries and discovering the best cheeses in the US, Wisconsinite Dvorak decided to open a shop called Mission Cheese on Valencia that's-- get this-- a cheese bar. The idea is to sit and taste and enjoy it in a social setting rather than just taking it home. Opened April 13th, the shop has been serving flights of over 30 different kinds of cheese, paninis, and mac 'n' cheese for just about eight weeks. So how is a cheese restaurant in a neighborhood that already has Bi-Rite's cheese aisle and Tartine's paninis to fare? Let's see what the early Eaters have to say about this creamy new Valencia venture.
The $$ News: Mariacarmen of Chowhound explains, "prices range from $39 (Boho Bel from Sebastopol) to $12.5 for a Cirrus from Port Townsend. For me, the prices are high." And Jim B./Yelp warns, "Chow hounds beware, you will feel severely ripped off here, especially if you road your bike from the excelsior and want some serious food to take care of your low blood sugar levels." But Yelper Kate T. says, "I can relate to other reviewers complaints about the size of things (they looked small), but after eating we were both stuffed, so complaint about trendy portion size rescinded." [Chowhound, Yelp]
The Service News: Sandra C./Yelp paints a picture: "all three times [I've been there], I was not greeted when I walked in, was not asked if I needed help while staring at the chalkboard menu, and even when buying cheese, didn't feel that the cheesemonger was engaging (I felt like we were bothering her). All three times I've observed other people walk in, look at the menu, look around for some sort of affirmation that they aren't invisible, and then walk out. I stood in line today for at least five minutes while the guy in the front sampled cheese. No one even acknowledged that there were two people in line...waiting...waiting... ". But Bill B./Yelp had a different experience: "the staff is very enthusiastic and knowledgeable about their cheeses." [Yelp] And Sharand N./Yelp goes on: "the staff is approachable & takes the time to tell you about the cheeses." [Yelp]
The Ambiance News: 7x7 notes "Mission Cheese feels more restaurant, less cheese shop." Urban Daddy details, "the space is appropriately cavernous with concrete walls and ceilings, reclaimed barnwood paneling, and a walnut bar with okra-colored tiles to make it inviting enough for several rounds of fromage blanc." TastingSF "loved the palette they chose in designing the space, and the Heath ceramic bar is just awesome." [7x7, Urban Daddy, TastingSF]
The Cheese News: Andrea F./Yelp raves, "the cheese is the huge star... I had the best cheese of my life here, guys. It was called Kunik from upstate NY. Do not continue life without trying this cheese." And Yelper Jimmy G. says, "the Monger's choice has been amazing each of the four times I've asked for it." [Yelp]
The Early Closing Time News: Lola C./Yelp warns, "they are currently only open until 8pm which i thought was so lame at first," but then explains, "I spoke to one of the waiters who informed me that this is only temporary (having to do w/ their current liquor license restrictions) and that they will soon stay open later so that we happy cheese-lovers can continue consuming melty-goodness late into the night." [Yelp]
The Cheese Store Vs. Cheese Bar News: Yelp's Sandra C. sheds some light on potential issues: there's "one line for both food and cheese to go. If someone is in front of you sampling cheese, trying to figure out which one to buy, it would be quite a while before someone takes your food order. (Translation: You're really annoying your cheese bar customers)." And Raphael R./Yelp says, "purchasing cheese is a little odd, since there is not really a counter to make selections." [Yelp]
The Booze News: Yelper Bill B. keeps it short and sweet: "great wines at a reasonable price. " Yelp's Brynne S. says, "the wine selection was decent, and we were very satisfied with our selections. Excited to go back and try the tasty variety of beers on tap." [Yelp]
The Don't Forget About The Beer News: Owner Sarah Dvorak gushes to 7x7, "I love beer & cheese! My stance is, in general, it is easier to pair cheese with beer," and tells Mission Loc@l that they're working on beer pairings. [7x7, Mission Loc@al]
Do you have thoughts on how Mission Cheese stands up? Leave them below or here, please.