Seattle, WA – Beecher’s Handmade Cheese Cafe

by Mijune on May 17, 2011 · 16 comments

in $10 or less,American,Food 5.5,Sandwiches,Seattle,Vegetarian

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Restaurant: Beecher’s Handmade Cheese Cafe
Cuisine: American/Sandwiches
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)
Service: 3
Ambiance: 3.5
Overall: 5
Additional comments:

  • 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
  • Busy/line-ups
  • Quick/casual
  • 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!

The other half of the cafe operates as a mini cheese market featuring take home artisan cheeses and a selection of cookbooks.

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:

“World’s Best Mac & Cheese!” It’s served in their “cafeteria line up” and it looks mass produced and like nothing special… but all you need is one bite to convince you otherwise!

**”World’s Best” Mac & Cheese5.5/6

  • 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 & Cheesen/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 Sandwich – 5.5/6

  • 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.

Oh god. The action shot. The grilled cheese sandwich pull! It’s a better pull than an Oreo cookie pull.

  • 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.

Beecher’s Fresh Cheese Curds – 3/6

  • 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 ;)

Beecher’s Handmade Cheese Cafe’s The “World’s Best” Mac & Cheese Recipe

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.

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{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Jane May 17, 2011 at 10:17 am

the mac n cheese should be called quattro formaggi pasta. hahahahaha… definitely sounds n looks delicious though. the addition of spices i guess will make it less boring. haha..

2 Linda May 17, 2011 at 11:24 am

goodness gracious.. CHEESE!!! like you, i love cheese too!!! i can’t get enough of going to places in vancouver like au petit chavignol – so cheesy and so gooooood :)

wow, that mac and cheese looks amazing – so gooey and so creamy, just the way i like mac and cheese! and now the recipe is posted!?!!?!? OMG OMG OMG must make this soooooon! the sandwich looks great as well and that shot you got is just as food porntastic as an oozing yolk.. yummers! with all that cheese you ate, i’m surprised you didn’t get any soup! :)

3 Bon Gateau May 17, 2011 at 11:49 am

the cheese sauce recipe is more or less like a bechamel?? that’s what they used for the mac n cheese? my chef’s wife make this really yummy mac n cheese and she uses lots of bechamel and cheese layers. sooooo good. everytime i eat bowlfuls! i should try this recipe next time on my mac n cheese

4 Matt May 17, 2011 at 1:46 pm

Mijune,
Thank you so much for this extensive post! Your pictures are beautiful and your praise and critiques are well appreciated. We look forward to seeing you next time you’re down in Seattle!

-Matt Longman
Beecher’s Social Media Manager

5 Ann May 17, 2011 at 1:47 pm

It *is* a local favorite. We can’t get us enough of our Beecher’s.

6 Mijune May 17, 2011 at 2:17 pm

@Jane – OMG It was delicious!!!

@Linda – yes!! you like bread and cheese! You must love grilled cheese lol!! Lol this was lunch #2 so I missed out on the soup, but you better put this on your seattle itinerary list!! I think you’ll love it! Make this recipe at home too, but you have to experience the real deal too! Yours will be different because you need their specific cheese to make it anyways! Excited for you!!

@Bon Gateau – Yes! it was similar to an ultra creamy and velvety cheesey bechamel! If you try it… I’m coming over!! but again they use a very specific cheese for the sauce… but who cares! I want in!! lol xoxo

@Matt – Welcome! Pictures are thanks to a friend, but it was my pleasure to write this post! I feel very passionately about the cheesy goodness I experienced at Beecher’s! Will definitely return when I’m in Seattle next! Thank you for your nice comment! Hopefully I will be there earlier next time to watch them make it!

@Ann – YES!! I knew it!! Thanks for sharing!!

7 Lyndsey May 17, 2011 at 2:54 pm

I’m SO all over this,but imma put lobster in mine. thanks so much for the post. this has to be my favorite comfort food ever!! xx

8 vivian May 17, 2011 at 4:57 pm

Great action pics, makes me want to drive straight to seattle for some cheeeeese. I love their mac and cheese. At first when I saw what I was paying for the small little bowl I thought it was a rip off but the moment I took a bite, it was so worth it and it was so rich that you don’t need a bigger bowl!lol Can’t believe you were able to eat the grilled cheese after the mac and cheese!

9 Bow May 17, 2011 at 8:54 pm

American markets have some specialty shops we don’t…this cheesemaker is one, another(in San Fran) is caviar bars, in NYC and N.O. oyster bars, sigh(also beer kiosks)…Although Granville market has a brewery and a sake maker.The Flagship sandwich looks great, nice and gooey. Definitely a place I could eat in often. Love the milk can stools. Mijune, did Beecher’s have nice mature cheeses ? Bloomy rinds or hard ones ?

10 kevvur May 18, 2011 at 12:56 am

Beecher’s Flagship sandwich or Burgoo’s Grilled Cheese?

11 Mijune May 18, 2011 at 11:27 am

@Lyndsey – They have a crab grilled cheese!!! But they ran out when I got there :(

@vivian – I know!!! The bowl is small, but then you understand why after one bite!! So indulgent!! I love eating!! haahh

@bow – They did have other cheeses in their cheese shop portion of the store! But they’re most famous for their Flagship one. Yes I guess different markets focus on different things, but I wish we had a cheese production like this! Amazing!

@kevvur – ok you’re going to kill me.. I’ve only tried Burgoo’s Mac and Cheese… BUT I can say I liked this mac and cheese better.

12 munchkie May 21, 2011 at 11:29 pm

yes, agreed – seeing cheese for a foodie is definitely like seeing a puppy through a window… and great action shot of the grilled cheese… looooooove stretchy, gooey cheese. i must try this place next time i’m in seattle…

13 Mijune May 24, 2011 at 1:49 pm

@munchie – glad you agree! please do! You won’t regret it… it’s a memorable grilled cheese!

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