Restaurant: Beecher’s Handmade Cheese Cafe
Last visited: May 30, 2011
Location: Seattle, WA (Pike Place Market/Downtown)
Address: 1600 Pike Place
Price Range: $10 or less
1: Poor 2: OK 3: Good 4: Very good 5: Excellent 6: Tres Excellent!!
Food: 5.5 (based on items I tried)
- In Seattle & New York
- Award winning cheese
- Since 2003
- Famous cheese shop
- Popular to locals/tourists
- Fresh handmade cheese
- All natural cheese
- Hormone free milk
- Limited menu
- Pay at cashier service
- Cheap eats/budget friendly
- Artisan cheeses to go
**Recommendations: Flagship Sandwich, “World’s Best” Mac & Cheese
It was a foodie trip in Seattle so historic Pike Place Market was on the itinerary. It’s pretty much the Granville Island (in Vancouver) of Seattle. After munching and sampling among the many vendors I was deciding where to have my lunch #2 after lunch #1 at world famous Din Tai Fung.
Russian? No, keep walking. Donuts featuring a long line up? No, keep walking. How about the original first-ever Starbucks? No, keep walking. Seafood chowder? No, keep walking. Beecher’s Handmade Cheese? Wait! Stop! STOP! Stop in the name of…
Cheese! CHEESE!! CHEEEEEEEESE!!!! I love saying it just as much as I like eating it! Okay, no I take that back. I like eating it way more. It doesn’t even smell bad to me, although I wouldn’t buy it in a perfume scent either. The decision was made! Lunch #2 was going to be at Beecher’s Handmade Cheese!
I think this was convincing enough. It looked like giant piano keys and my eyes were glued to the window. Let me explain. To a foodie, like myself, this is like seeing a puppy dog in the window. It was logs of fresh cheese just sitting there… waiting for me to sink my teeth into it. I couldn’t keep it waiting for me any longer!
Yes, there is some machinery involved in combination with the “handmade” cheesemaking labour, but it’s reasonable for what they’re doing and the cheese is still premium quality.
I don’t know if this is a tourist trap or a local favourite, but either way it was excellent, so I’m calling it a local favourite. Or I’ll just call it a “Follow Me Foodie Favourite”. I loved the rustic Euro-American ambiance from the Oliver Twist uniforms to the metal milk jug stools. It has a simple chalkboard menu of a handful of grilled cheese sandwiches, a couple mac n’ cheeses and two soups, and that’s it. They stick to the name of their own game and that’s cheese!
Kurt Beecher Dammeier is the owner of Beecher’s Handmade Cheese and Brad Sinko is the cheesemaker. Both of them are dedicated to the craft of cheesemaking and of course cheeselovers themselves.
It all starts with the milk and the milk used is specific. It comes from a local herd of hormone free cows and it’s a combination of cattle so that the cheese produced is precisely 4% butter fat. They take cheese seriously here and that’s why it has also won numerous awards by the American Cheese Society year after year since 2005.
I thoroughly enjoyed my meal at Beecher’s Handmade Cheese Cafe. From the first bite to the last it was no doubt a winning find at Pike Place Market. The only thing that threw me off is that the mac and cheese was available in frozen TV dinner form as well. The stuff they produce here is fresh and high quality so seeing that just put a dinger in their philosophy. In a world of options and consumption, it wasn’t a big deal and it’s not like they serve the frozen stuff, but it just took away from the charm a bit. Regardless I wouldn’t hesitate to come back or recommend this as a must try at Pike Place Market.
On the table:
- Savour the creamy blend Flagship, Just Jack, penne pasta & spices 8oz $5 16oz $8.64
- Bold words. Everyone thinks they make the “best mac & cheese”. If it’s on the menu, it’s almost always on my table.
- It looks super simple and boring, but it’s delicious and made with four types of cheese.
- One bite and you’ll know that the 8oz is enough.
- This is my kind of mac and cheese! It doesn’t have to be stringy, but it has to be creamy with lots of aged cheddar cheese melted right into the sauce.
- The noodles are slightly overcooked but generously coated with sauce which actually stuck to the noodle like glue! I loved it!
- It was a thick, creamy, rich, and indulgent savoury cheese sauce with a smoky flavour, some background Chipotle chili powder heat (but it’s not spicy) and then a hint of garlic powder.
- It was an ultra cheesy and stick to your throat rich sauce.
- I could taste the melted grainy texture of the Cheddar cheese rue and it was extra creamy and rich from some added Gruyere.
- The only thing that could make it better is a crispy Parmesan gratin crust. Considering it was served in a cafe, it wasn’t expected and this was more than excellent!
- See the bottom of this post for their “World’s Best” Mac & Cheese recipe :)… you’re going to scroll straight to the bottom now aren’t you? Don’t miss the rest!
Mariachi Mac & Cheese – n/a
- Roasted Anaheim Chilies, a blend of fresh veggies and flagship come together with a spicy kick 8oz $5 16oz $8.64
- I couldn’t decide which one to order and they let me sample both. It was an easy choice for me to chose the “World’s Best” Mac & Cheese.
- The Mariachi Mac & Cheese was good, but it was nearing the end of the batch and it wasn’t as creamy and the noodles were overcooked so I didn’t try it at its freshest state.
- It had a little Southwestern Tex-Mex flair which a spicy heat to follow and it was good, but definitely not as good as the “World’s Best” in my opinion.
- Flagship, Just Jack, basil, tomato & Beecher’s spread $6.36
- A grilled cheese doesn’t have to be just a plain old grilled cheese… although I love those too! This was a memorable grilled cheese!
- It was perfectly grilled and charred with crisscross grill marks.
- The bread was ultra crispy and thin as a crostini from being pressed in the hot panini grill.
- There was a nice crunch from the buttered bread and the texture and ratio of cheese to bread was perfect.
- It was oozing with ooey gooey stretchy stringy cheese and the flavour was incredible.
- I loved the flavour of the quality of cheeses and it wasn’t too oily.
- The Flagship cheese was mild, but the Jack cheese gave it added flavour and together it was creamy and smooth.
- The Jack cheese didn’t seem very aged so it was still somewhat mild, but overall the sandwich was definitely cheesy enough.
- The juicy tang of fresh tomato and hint of whole grain mustard in the Beecher’s spread convinced me that this was a must try grilled cheese sandwich.
- The basil was a bit lost and the 1-2 leaves weren’t substantial enough to make a difference, but it didn’t matter too much because it was still heavenly with or without it.
- Bite-sized nuggets with a mild, delicious dairy fresh taste. Available in plain or flavoured. $5.95 (1/2 pint) $9 (pint)
- Being Canadian, I come from a very high standard when it comes to fresh cheese curds. We (or Montreal) invented the poutine (fries with cheese curds and gravy) and we’re super picky when it comes to cheese curds.
- I had extremely high expectations for this and I was disappointed.
- Sure it was good and fresh, with a nice mild mozzarella flavour, but it wasn’t nearly fresh enough and more like mozzarella than a fresh cheese curd.
- It had no squeak in the chew and it was crumbly and almost like Feta, but without the saltiness.
- I’m comparing these to the best and most authentic cheese curds I’ve had in Vancouver to date, which are from La Belle Patate.
The recipe for their “World’s Best” Mac & Cheese is literally posted everywhere, so I really don’t think it’s a big deal if I post it on here. They have it published in cookbooks and it’s easily googled. So why not share the love until I get my hand slapped… quick! Grab a pen and paper or get your printers ready! Or just save a tree and e-mail this to yourself 😉
SERVES 4 AS A SIDE DISH
- 6 ounces penne pasta
- 2 cups Beecher’s Flagship Sauce (recipe follows)
- 1 ounce cheddar, grated ( 1/4 cup)
- 1 ounce Gruyere cheese, grated ( 1/4 cup)
- 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon chipotle chile powder
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Oil or butter an 8-inch baking dish.
Cook the penne 2 minutes less than package directions. (It will finish cooking in the oven.) Rinse pasta in cold water and set aside.
Combine cooked pasta and Flagship Sauce in a medium bowl and mix carefully but thoroughly. Scrape the pasta into the prepared baking dish. Sprinkle the top with the cheeses and then the chile powder. Bake, uncovered, for 20 minutes. Let sit for 5 minutes before serving.
NOTE: If you double the recipe to make a main dish, bake in a 9-by-13-inch pan for 30 minutes.
Beecher’s Flagship Cheese Sauce Recipe
MAKES ABOUT 4 CUPS
- 1/4 cup ( 1/2 stick) unsalted butter
- 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
- 3 cups milk
- 14 ounces semihard cheese, such as Beecher’s Flagship, grated (about 3 1/2 cups)
- 2 ounces grated semisoft cheese, such as Beecher’s Just Jack
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon chipotle chile powder
- 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
Melt the butter in a heavy-bottom saucepan over medium heat and whisk in the flour. Continue whisking and cooking for 2 minutes. Slowly add the milk, whisking constantly. Cook until the sauce thickens, about 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove from the heat. Add the cheese, salt, chile powder and garlic powder. Stir until the cheese is melted and all ingredients are incorporated, about 3 minutes. Use immediately, or refrigerate for up to three days.
NOTE: A single batch of sauce makes enough for a double recipe of macaroni and cheese.