California (Cheese) Dreaming

Well, LA to be precise but that didn’t sound as good.

Cheese is made from milk and milk is good for you, right?

I’ve always liked cheese but I wasn’t a true fanatic until I met my husband, he can’t go a weekend without a cheese platter or two and now I’m the same. It pairs so well with wine and by now you probably know how much I love wine.

I truly fell in love with cheese when we went to pick up a bottle of wine on Deansgate in Manchester, the sommelier invited us upstairs to try the wine accompanied by a cheese plate and I was hooked. We would go back to Vin Bistro most weekends, the place was unknown and always dead but we loved it, the large leather Chesterfield sofas looked out on to one of the busiest roads in town and we were able to watch the world go by, drinking wine, enjoying cheese and gorging on an endless supply of bread.


If you ever find yourself in Manchester, you have to try this place.


Now, instead of cosy bistros catering to our cheese needs, California allows us to enjoy pool side cheese plates and here are some of my favorites.

  1. Heritage Fine Wines


A quaint, stylish bar in the heart of Beverly Hills, Heritage Fine Wines without a doubt offers the best cheese plate I have sampled this side of the Pacific. I wish I could remember what each of the cheeses were called but we also did the wine and champagne tasting so the details aren’t so clear. Although I do remember that the bread is flown in daily from Paris, surely no where can beat that?

The sommelier was extremely informative and the pours are certainly more than you would expect for a tasting. The bar has sophisticated decor with large arm chairs and bar seating, the perfect spot to watch established gentlemen fornicate with amateur ‘models’. Remember, we are in Beverly Hills.

The cheese is chosen for you and what a good job they do, the accompaniments are just as impressive and the bread seals the deal, they slice and toast it behind the bar while you enjoy wines from different regions of France. They do offer a small food/snack menu which is brought in from Nic’s next door. But the true selling point of this place is the quality of the wine and cheese. Don’t forget to take home a bottle of your favorite.


Food: 4.7/5

Atmosphere: 3.8/5

Service: 4.8/5

Price: Reasonable for Beverly Hills 

Tips: Take a bottle of your favorite wine home 

Check out the menu here.


2. Mignon


This small hidden gem in DTLA will have you thinking you are in France. The small yet perfectly formed menu combined with a dark boudoir like interior make this place a great spot for a date or after work drinks and nibbles at the bar. The staff are cool, friendly, knowledge about the wine and have a love for cheese and all things French.

Mingon hadn’t been open long when I first visited and if you didn’t know it was there you could easily walk by. The outside is unassuming in comparison to the quality of the food. I just wish I had taken more photos, I guess I was enjoying myself too much.

The menu is more snack like and designed to share however they do offer a three course set menu which is changed nightly. The Speck Wrapped Dates and the Olives, Walnuts, Marcona Almonds dish are a must.

Food: 4.6/5

Atmosphere: 3.5/5

Service: 4.8/5

Price: Cheese – $6 each, $15 for 3, $20 for 5

Tips: Stop by during happy hour. 5-8pm nightly 

Check out the menu here.


3. Ace Hotel 


I had no expectations of Ace Hotel, I dropped by for happy hour on the rooftop after work. It was beautiful weather and a quick Friday drink turned in to several which resulted in dinner, of course.

The roof top is a great after work spot, it is casual, offers good cocktails at happy hour prices and the vibe is uplifting. Tourists and city workers mingle as everyone looks forward to the weekend.

I had never heard of the restaurant, but as we were leaving to grab a bite to eat, the mood lighting, the black and white tiled floor and the 1920’s type decor drew us in and now that I am remembering this cheese plate I’m wondering if it should come higher in this list.

The blue cheese is the best I’ve ever had, strong yet mild and creamy at the same time. If only I could remember the name, I really should cut back on the drinks! The fruit bread and honeycomb make the perfect accompaniments and the olives with raw almonds made an impressive side dish. I really must come here again, a little more sober and savor the moment.

Food: 4.5/5

Atmosphere: 4.2/5

Service: 4.1/5

Price: Cheese – Reasonable 

Tips: Get there early for a drink on the roof

Check out Ace Hotel here.


4. Monsieur Marcel

Monsieur Marcel SM

Low key, un-fussy and charming, this French gourmet market delivers quality cheese and wine in the heart of The Grove’s Farmers Market. With French fare at a reasonable price you can’t go wrong here. The menu is typical of its cafe like style but the food is anything but simple.

Be sure to check out their shop before leaving, they even have an English aisle where you can pick up specialty items.

This restaurants position within the market make it ideal for a quick stop while shopping, or try their Santa Monica location to make a day of it and enjoy your cheese in the sun while watching the buskers bust thier asses on Third Street.


Food: 4/5

Atmosphere: 4/5

Service: 4/5

Price: Cheese – $24 a choice of 3 cheeses and 3 meats

Tips: Try the olives and order extra bread

You can find the menu here.


5. Sonoma Wine Garden 


When I think of Sonoma Wine Garden I don’t automatically think cheese, that is because this party place offers so much more, as well as a cheese plate worthy of this list.

The crowd is young and beautiful and the rooftop location makes this a must stop in Santa Monica. What more could you want? There is a DJ playing on Sundays and I have never been disappointed with any dish I have tried. The extensive wine list only adds to its appeal and the best part is the fruit and nut toast that accompanies the cheese plate.

Food: 4/5

Atmosphere: 4.8/5

Service: 3.8/5

Price: Cheese & Fruit Plate $18 

Tips: If you are still hungry try one of the salads or nibble on some truffle fries

You can find the menu here.


6. Carbon Beach Club 


Carbon Beach Club could make the list for views alone but this is about cheese and the cheese is a good contender.

Quality over style with large chunks of cheese, just how I like it. Good accompaniments and warm freshly baked white bread rolls. The cheese plate is probably my favorite dish on the menu as competition for good food in Malibu is high with Nobu and Mastros just down the road, but with sea views like this, a small but perfectly formed patio and a killer G&T, if you are in town be sure to stop by.

They also offer free valet parking and after the stop, start traffic on PCH this is a little slice of heaven by the sea.


Food: 3.5/5

Atmosphere: 4.5/5

Service: 4/5

Price: Reasonable 

Tips: Try the chocolate tasting plate 

You can find the menu here.


More cheese that didn’t quite make the top 6….


Wallys – Beverly Hills


shoo shoo

Shoo Shoo Baby – DTLA


Giulia – DTLA

And because we love cheese so much here’s some we made at home…

home cheesehome.jpgmy cheese board


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