Perhaps in the future there will be a specialty restaurant for everything. But for now, if your dreams have involved bellying up to an elegant bar and demanding the barkeep bring you a side-splitting amount of cheese, then goat.sheep.cow.north (henceforth GSCN) is your new Cheers.
For the most part, goat.sheep.cow.north is more about curating than cooking, and the varied cheese ($14/$18/$24), charcuterie ($14/$18/$24), and combo boards ($16/$24/$32) showcase those impressive skills well. A medium combo board ($24) comes with four cheeses (representing each of the three animals, as well as a thorough smattering of textures) and two meats. Bear in mind that these items are chosen for you, so if a funky, grassy raw cow's milk cheese or country pate aren't your bag, well, eat around them. Accompanied by dried cherries, apricots and figs, olives, and grilled toast, it's a solid bang for your cheese-loving buck.
There's also an extensive wine list, offering dozens of by-the-glass and whole bottle options at a wide variety of price points for your pairing pleasure. Those not so fond of the fruits of the vine will find a small beer and cider selection, as well.
Perhaps not everyone suffers from seasonal salad guilt, but I have been known to order greenery in strange places because of it. That stated, GSCN would not be a top recommendation for atonement. Notably fresh, the GSC salad ($7.50) features lightly dressed mixed greens topped with paper-thin radish slices, corn nuts, and feta cheese-topped toast "croutons." It's light and pleasing, but ultimately insubstantial and forgettable, so you may as well go ahead and order what you really want anyway.
Case in point, consider the signature grilled cheese ($10). A revelation, it's the closest thing to a vegetarian Reuben I've ever encountered. The gooey taleggio and fontina cheeses mingle with the flavors of horseradish, stone ground mustard, and grilled onions. Made in a panini press and served (perhaps not surprisingly) on marbled rye, the bits of slightly spicy bread and butter pickles add a delightful and unexpected crunch.
The monger's grilled cheese ($9) changes weekly and is clearly governed by the whims of the monger. Served on slices of sourdough, expect it to contain, well, cheese. Mine arrived overflowing with a lava-esque flood of brie. The bread remained intact, held in place, perhaps, by the slice of prosciutto and smear of achiote pepper spread. Decadent, yet balanced, one can only assume that future offerings will be equally compelling.
If you resist change — or cheese — the baked muffuletta ($12) may be more to your liking. Granted, it bears only a minor resemblance to the hulking New Orleans creation for which it is named. Typically served on a round, Italian loaf with inch-thick layers of Genoa salami, ham, and mortadella, plus olive tapenade, and mozzarella and provolone cheeses, consider the GSCN version its refined cousin. Here, a six-inch chunk of crunchy, toasted baguette is topped with a sensible portion of the traditional meats, plus conservative layers of buffalo milk cheese and a spicy olive salad. Accompanied by a salad of simply dressed greens, this is more of a showcase of charcuterie than cheese, but it works.
I also sampled the GSCN daily special sandwich ($9), in this case a fresh baguette filled with jamon de Paris, brie, and fresh Bibb lettuce, plus an ample smear of fig-orange marmalade. Sweet, savory and simple, it's perhaps the next best thing to being in the 15th arrondissement.
A place to sip and sample, goat.sheep.cow.north adds a welcoming, refined space — plus an irresistible opportunity to gorge yourself stupid on cheese in the burgeoning Half Mile North neighborhood.