Cheesy Magnolia

The flavors are varied and abundant at this new Near Southside stop.
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Posted January 30, 2013 by LAURIE BARKER JAMES in Eats
Chef Jen Williams and her friendly staff at Magnolia Cheese Co. will make you feel at home. Adrien P. MaroneyChef Jen Williams and her friendly staff at Magnolia Cheese Co. will make you feel at home. Adrien P. Maroney

Magnolia Cheese Co., tucked into the corner of West Magnolia and 5th avenues on the Near Southside, is easy to miss if you’re driving by. The cheese shop/eatery’s motto, according to the menu, is “Cheese, wine, learn, and dine,” and even if you walk in knowing nothing about cheese or wine, owner Elizabeth Northern has you covered. Northern loves cheese, tapas, small plates, and variety –– while half the cheese in her store is imported, she also offers local, regional, and other American cheese. Tell her, or any of the staff, what you like or don’t like, and they’ll create a five-cheese board for your experimenting pleasure.

On a recent visit, the refrigerated case held more than two dozen options, so I told Northern to surprise me. The soft, stinky Oregon blue cheese tasted absolutely wonderful with the restaurant’s homemade date compote. The Brazos Valley goat cheese rounds topped with roasted pumpkin seeds tasted fine, as did the Spanish-style, locally produced Manchegoat, especially when dredged in the dribbles of local honey that painted the plate. But both paled in comparison to the Jamaica jerk spice-infused No Woman cheddar and the Barely Buzzed lavender-and-espresso-rubbed white cheese from Utah’s Beehive Cheese Co. Yes: lavender and espresso. The rind was fragrant and delicious, and the inside of the cheese had a hint of sweetness.

The cheese boards are not enough to constitute lunch or dinner –– they hold maybe three bites of each cheese. Fortunately, the kitchen also produces more substantial food.

The soup of the day was a warm carrot ginger. Served in a mini-mason jar, it was topped with crème fraiche and more roasted pumpkin seeds. The cream-based soup had subtle ginger and strong, smoky overtones –– be sure to clarify ingredients if you’re vegetarian. Delicious and not too spicy, the soup was an almost surreal egg yolk yellow and came out accompanied by buttery baguette croutons.

Kale is the green du jour, and at Magnolia Cheese Co., it’s served both in a salad and roasted as rather dry “chips” to accompany sandwiches. The chopped bits of kale in the spinach-kale salad were overwhelmed by the spinach. No matter: The healthy salad, featuring avocado, delicate dabs of queso fresco, and crisp shiitake mushrooms standing in as croutons, was a treat and perhaps helped balance out the amount of high-fat dairy on the cheese board.

The Twisted Spaniard sandwich was a delightfully oozy, melty, sloppy mess. Grilled serrano ham, more chopped kale, and some manchego cheese overflowed the panini bread. A garlic-date smear (like a sugary/tangy mayo) kept the whole thing together and beautifully complemented the sweet, spicy, and bitter.

For dessert, the chevre cheesecake was absolute heaven. Chevre (goat cheese) tends to be tart, but there was only the slightest tang of the cheese in the sweet cake. The soft consistency of chevre is more like a mascarpone than cream cheese, so this cheesecake was softer and a little fluffier than traditional versions. The warm maple syrup drizzle, pecans, and candied sage garnish were, for lack of better superlatives, just lovely.

All entrées are cooked to order, so your dining experience at Magnolia Cheese Co. will be leisurely. There’s no freezer –– what’s on the menu or in the cheese fridge today may not be there next week. But Northern deserves credit for pursuing her passion. Magnolia Cheese Co. is a little like the Disneyland of boutique fromage dining: It’s the happiest, cheesiest place on Earth.

 

Magnolia Cheese Co.

1251 W Magnolia Av, FW. 817-945-2221. 11am-9pm Tue-Thu, 11am-10pm Fri-Sat, 11am-6pm Sun.

All major credit cards accepted.

Five-cheese plank…………… $16-18.00

Soup of the day ……………….. $6.00

Kale and spinach salad …….. $8.00

Twisted Spaniard sandwich $9.50

Chevre cheesecake …………. $8.50

 


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