A plate of well-chosen cheeses is the perfect predinner nibble, or with the addition of a salad can be dinner itself. At these Maine restaurants, cheese is served with care.
The Fiddlehead Restaurant | Bangor
Chef Mel Chaiken’s menu focuses on American comfort food combined with global inﬂuences and locally sourced ingredients, including produce from the restaurant’s own Fiddlehead Farm. The ﬁrst dish listed is the cheese plate, a choice of one, two, or three cheeses from a rotating selection, accompanied by saucisson rouge, ginger compote, seasonal fruit, and toasted bread.
The Frog + Turtle | Westbrook
Westbrook’s restaurant scene may be up-and-coming now, but it wasn’t that way when chef and co-owner James Tranchemontagne opened his gastro pub in 2007. He has since added a second-ﬂoor lounge and deck offering a view of the Presumpscot River—a good spot to indulge in the pub menu’s cheese plate: three cheeses with toast points and accompaniments.
In Good Company | Rockland
Housed in an Italianate former bank building, Rockland native Melody Wolfertz’s romantic restaurant is a mainstay in this midcoast city. Like much of the menu, Wolfertz and chef Zeph Belanger’s cheese selection changes regularly, and is offered with or without charcuterie.
The Grill Room + Bar | Portland
Restaurateur Harding Lee Smith’s dark and clubby “urban steakhouse” in the heart of the Old Port is known for its wood-ﬁred meat, ﬁsh, and pizzas, prepared in full view of the dining room. Topping the appetizer list is the cheese board: four selections served with quince paste and honeycomb.
MJ’s Wine Bar | Portland
On the ﬁrst ﬂoor of One City Center, sommelier Mark Ohlson’s wine bar (named for his mom, Mary Jane) offers wine, beer, cider, and snacks in a relaxed, convivial environment. Cheese plates are the back-bone of the menu, and each cheese is served with its own accompaniments.
Northern Union | Ogunquit
Matt and Lauren Wickert’s popular wine-centric restaurant is intimate and elegant, with a dramatic, glass-enclosed wine wall that puts the entire inventory on display; 29 of the selections are available by the glass. The cheese menu has included local offerings from Lakin’s Gorges Cheese, Winter Hill Farm, and Silvery Moon Creamery.
The North Point | Portland
The menu at the North Point, owned by Dan and Kelly Talmatch, is focused on small plates and snacks to nibble with wine or an expertly mixed signature cocktail. It includes a large selection of cheeses, mostly imported, generously plated with seasonal fruit, ﬁg jam, soft-boiled egg, pickled onions, cornichons, Dijon mustard, and toasted bread.
Sur Lie | Portland
Five-year-old Sur Lie has become a local favorite for its tapas-style menu and the warm welcome of owners Krista Cole and Antonio Alviar. Cheeses on the current menu are from Maine—Barred Owl Creamery blue, Balfour Farm cider-washed gouda, and Spring Day Creamery’s Rendez-vous—and are served singly or with a selection of charcuterie.