If cheese doesn't account for at least one third of your winter caloric intake, you're not doing the season properly (booze is obviously the other two thirds). One of the most delicious and fun ways to meet those expectations is with the giant crock of bubbling cheese and wine known as fondue. We can't get to the Alps on a blogging budget, so here are a few local places to enjoy the Swiss tradition this season.
LE FOND Jake Eberle's cheery Greenpoint bistro offers an unbeatable Tuesday night special of half priced bottles of wine plus a weekly cheese fondue special for dinner. The fondue comes with a bounty of dipping vessels (broccoli, bread, apple slices and the like), plus the addition of a seared steak for a total of $24 or $18 for a vegetarian version. Halfway through, the server will add a little hot water to what's left of the cheese, ensuring the mixture stays liquified until the last cube of bread has taken its bath.
105 Norman Avenue, Greenpoint, 718-389-6859; lefondbk.com
FONDUE CHALET With checkered tablecloths plus vintage ski posters on cozy wood walls, this seasonal Williamsburg pop-up does its best to replicate an authentic European experience. The House Fondue ($24 per person) combines gruyere, raclette, white wine and "other cheeses," and they'll add white truffle oil to that for an extra $1 per person. There are veggies and salads and other non-cheese things on the menu (pffff) and each serving of fondue comes with bread, veggies and fruit for dipping.
125 Berry Street, Williamsburg; Facebook
MURRAY'S CHEESE BAR God bless Murray's for all the good cheese they've exposed us to in NYC and for opening a special bar where cheese lovers can unite over a wheel of Harbison. Naturally, they've got their own fondue made with Alpine-style cheeses (which are great for melting) combined with crisp Chablis and earthy nutmeg. Hunks of crusty bread (and pepperoni for an extra $5) make ideal vessels for soaking up as much of the cheese as possible. They have two sizes: $18 for two people and $28 for four.
THE STANDARD EAST VILLAGE
The Standard hotel's seasonal garden gets winterized with heated yurts, hot spiked drinks and rib-sticking fare like pork schnitzel and fondue. There are two fondue options here, including one made with gruyere and emmental cheeses with sausages, potatoes, apples, cornichons and baguette-like filone bread ($40) and a vegetarian version with endive, cauliflower, squash, pears, mushrooms and more filone ($35).
25 Cooper Square, East Village, 212-475-5700; standardhotels.com
(courtesy Pair Wine and Cheese)
PAIR WINE & CHEESE Like Murray's, Pair's the kind of place you can swing by to pick up goodies for an at-home cheese feast, OR you can stick around and eat on site, which is the move to try the hybrid shop-restaurant's fondue. Their version ($16) combines gruyere and comte cheeses, served in a cute little ceramic dish. Cubes of bread and apples are the dipping accompaniments and, as the name suggests, they'll happily pair you with a wine that'll go well with your crock of cheese.
140 Atlantic Avenue, Cobble Hill, 718-596-6594; pairbrooklyn.com
KASHKAVAL GARDEN Mediterranean tapas and fondue are the two specialties at this Hell's Kitchen mainstay. Choose one of four fondue options here, including a sharp cheddar variety with caramelized onions and hard apple cider ($14 per person). Their signature, however, is the Kashkaval Fondue ($14 per person) made with their namesake Bulgarian cheese, a sheep's milk variety that's similar to an English cheddar.
852 9th Avenue, Hell's Kitchen, 212-245-1758; kashkavalgarden
TAUREAU This bisto specializes in fondue of cheese, meat and chocolate forms. Tables are outfitted with their own electric burners (no wimpy votive candles necessary) and diners can select a choose your own adventure-type meal with dozens of varieties of cheeses, meats, oils, dipping sauces and chocolates. Choose either a three course ($52 per person) or two course ($43 per person) meal, both of which afford the diner a choice of cheese combo, like the Smoked Dutch with smoked gouda, beer and cheddar monterey. You can dip filet mignon in a simmering pot of olive oil, if you'd like, then finish the meal off with a tray of fruit and white chocolate cake to dip into your choice of dark or milk molten chocolate.
558 Broome Street, South Village, 212-228-2222; taureaunyc.com