Smile and say cheese! Then dip your piece of baguette in the gooey pot of cheese and really smile.
What could possibly make this winter go by faster? How about lunches and dinners centered around delicious, fragrant melted cheese? That’s what the French do with two amazing dishes: fondue and raclette. You’re probably familiar with the former — thanks to a 1970s fondue craze, most American households have at least one fondue set pushed to the back of the highest cabinet in their kitchen. But if you’ve never tried the latter, grab a group, head to one of the spots on our list of the best raclette spots in NYC and get ready to discover a whole new way to enjoy cheese. It’ll add even more mystery to the French ability to keep the pounds off while eating n’importe quoi.
Here’s our list of best raclette places, best fondue places, and best places that serve both.
For those of you who don’t know, la raclette usually consists of raclette cheese (it’s a type of swiss) that you slice into squares and melt over heat before sliding them onto cooked potatoes, cornichons, or — wait for it — charcuterie. *Sigh*
Barawine (200 Lenox Avenue) is Frenchly’s favorite spot to chow down on melted cheese ON TOP OF cured meats. A generous portion of delicious cheese, fried potatoes with herbs, fantastic bread, and even cornichons! The ambiance is chic and modern. Located in the heart of Harlem, the playlist is Motown and the service impeccable. Barawine serves raclette all week for $25 per person.
Café Paulette (136 Dekalb Avenue, Brooklyn) a restaurant owned by two French people, offers raclette from a raclette machine that even raclette aficionados have to see to believe. To get in on this delicacy, you must make a reservation and let them know in advance that you want raclette. So make some cheese-lovin’ friends, and quick! $32 per person.
Après Ski Chalet at Café Select (212 Lafayette St) (our favorite) has a white truffle fondue that is to die for. The truffle taste is prominent and the liquid cheese is plentiful. To get to this hidden back-room-boutique-bar-restaurant you’ll have to cross through the kitchens of Café Select. The tiny dining room that seats about a dozen is filled with cow bells and snow boards to create the ski chalet effect. The music is loud. Also on the menu are a three-cheese and a curry fondue, and a Mediterranean fondue with tomato. All of them are served with a plate of fruits, vegetables and bread. One drawback: the charcuterie plate is an add-on and has more cheese than meat. Don’t get us wrong, we love cheese. But there are limits… You can also order a raclette here, but it’ll be served pre-melted on a plate and not with the awesome little machine. From $23 to $26 per pot for 2 people.
Taureau (558 Broome Street) is perfect if you’re looking for a restaurant that specializes in fondue! This French bistro’s specialty is providing a wide selection of cheeses to melt, including but not limited to parmesan, swiss, and beer-smoked-gouda. Taureau also serves another kind of fondue even more sinful than the cheese-based savoyard. Known as le fondue bourguignonne, this version has a bot of hot oil into which you dip pieces of meat, in this case chicken, pork or filet mignon. A couple of down-sides: you have to get prix-fixe ($42 per person for two fondue courses, $52 per person for three fondue courses) and the meat that comes with it is closer to American sausage than French saucisson. Taureau only accepts cash, American Express, personal checks, and (wait for it) Bitcoin.
Vintner Wine Market (671 9th Ave) is an option for those that like their fondue with a kick and don’t really care about décor. The boutique-café dares to offer some innovative blends like ale and New York cheddar, emmenthal-gruyère-chardonnay, or gorgonzola-pinot grigio. $25 each.
Kashkaval Garden (852 9th Avenue) is warm and cozy restaurant that serves tapas and cheeses along with a $14 fondue in their classic forms. They also offer truffle, cheddar and cider, classic, and a fondue of sheep’s cheese and kashakval — a cheese from Eastern Europe. There are also two other cheese-based offerings called “la religieuse” and “garden poutine.”
Artisanal Fromagerie Bistro (387 Park Avenue South) – currently closed, reopening soon – offers the most expensive fondue we could afford. Their setting is classic French bistro, so you’re guaranteed to be transported. As for the fondue itself you have a choice between gouda and stout or the fondue du jour… if you can afford it. $37 for a small pot of cheese, $47 for a large one. Bread is included. Meat, vegetables and cheeseare extra.
RACLETTE AND FONDUE
Murray’s Cheese Bar (264 Bleecker Street) specializes in cheese in all its forms including raclette and fondue. Their fondue is Alpine-style, flavored with champagne and nutmeg ($25 for 2 people). The raclette has three kinds of cheese, two meats meats, bread, and other condiments ($35 for 2 people). There are a few drawbacks to raclette here: potatoes are $4 extra, and it’s served in a rather impractical, small machine so you’ll still be hungry when it’s gone. Thankfully, bread is free, or you could get an appetizer. Our advice, leave room for dessert: to stay with the cheese theme, try their cheesecake — it’s excellent. A large table near the front makes this a good place to bring a crowd. Reservations recommended.
Mont Blanc 52 (344 W. 52nd Street) also offers both fondue and raclette. The ambiance is warm and comfortable. The fondue comes in classic four-cheese with bread, but also seafood, bourguignonne (beef), and chinoise (chicken, pork, and beef) all with a variety of dipping sauces. The raclette is served with potatoes, ham, viande des grisons (air-dried meats), and vegetable garnishes. The cheese is delicious but the accompanying foods leave a little something to be desired. $54-$58 for two people.
All images (except for the first and third) are courtesy of the restaurants with which the images are aligned.