Road-Trip Restaurant: Cheese in Estes Park

July 2008
Though well known for its salt-water taffy and ice cream shops, Estes Park isn't exactly a fine-dining haven. Enter Cheese, a year-and-a-half-old, bistro-style specialty cheese shop on the main drag. Open for sit-down and take-away, the menu is small but ever-changing with gourmet cheeses, cured meats, and pâtés. The Melange platter is my favorite way of sampling the goods. You choose three cheeses and two meats, and the staff sends out a gorgeous platter with accompaniments like roasted ciopollini onions, an assortment of olives, freshly sliced apple, candied walnuts, dried apricots, mustard, plus baguette slices and Nita Crisp crackers. If it's on the menu, don't miss Sunburst, a mild sheep's milk cheese made in Steamboat Springs (here it's served drizzled with honey from Lyons). Bonus: Cheese adjoins Wine, a shop stocked with hundreds of bottles. Wander over after lunch, or stick with the wine list and sample any three listed wines for $11. Or, check out Cheese's terrific beer list with hard-to-find sips like Troublette Belgium White and Brasserie Des Rocs. 330 & 332 E. Elkhorn Ave., Estes Park, 970-586-5511 (Cheese); 970-586-6611 (Wine)