Eating & Drinking

THE DISH: Say cheese! Who’s creating the most mouth-watering cheese plate?

Nowadays local restaurants are rediscovering this luxury called cheese. Four great places to explore the intricacies of fermented milk at its finest. BY CINDY DEACHMAN

Decadent cheese plates from Arc, Black Cat, Canvas, and Play. Photography by Photoluxstudio.com - Christian Lalonde

1. ARC LOUNGE.DINING

At ARC Lounge, Ontario and Quebec cheeses are beautifully arranged along with blackberries, raspberries, pears, and nuts on a wooden board. Obviously attention is paid to balance and detail. The dry-textured Fifth Town chèvre is fresh, while Quebec’s oh-so-buttery and sweet La Sauvagine eats like brie. A blue Le Ciel de Charlevoix is not sharp, but hard, nutty. Try the unusually delicate apple compote. 1 pc/$8; 3 pc/$15; 5 pc/$22. 40 Slater St., 613-238-9998, www.arclounge.ca

2. BLACK CAT BISTRO

Here you’ll discover a five-cheese plate. From grazing sheep in Oxford Mills comes a Basque-style Tomme de Gaston, waxy yet rich. The wonderfully dry, crumbly Avonlea from Charlottetown is a cheddar that tastes sweet, not strong. To cut the powerful but velvety Bleu Bénédictin, dip it into truffle honey. Thoroughly enjoyable, too, is simple ricotta on a soft baguette — both made in-house. $18. 428 Preston St., 613-569-9998, www.blackcatbistro.ca

3. CANVAS RESTO-BAR-ETC.

Run down the blackboard list at Canvas. Choose one or even all — pay by the ounce. Seven of the eight cheeses are Québécois. The triple-cream Saint-Honoré melts in your mouth, buttery rich, while Le Douanier, with a line of ash down the middle, tastes pungently earthy. Tame the wildness of Stratford’s C’est Bon fresh goat cheese with the gorgeous honeycomb pooling in the middle of the plate. Exceptionally crunchy roasted walnuts and pecans. $4.95/oz. 65 Holland Ave., 613-729-1991, www.canvasrestobar.ca

4. PLAY FOOD & WINE

Play presents a cheese flight that guides you from mild to strong. The seven-cheese list ranges from Prince Edward County’s Cape Vessey (sweet, earthy) to a five-year-old orange Beemster from Holland (deep scotch flavour, salt crystals throughout). A creamy Rose Haus, also from Prince Edward County, is washed in Beau’s beer, its aroma likened to a barnyard. The sublime feral fragrance of animal. 3 pc/$13; 5 pc/$19; late-night wine and cheese flight/$20. 1 York St., 613-667-9207, www.playfood.ca