Restaurant review: Caesus Fromagerie & Bistro
Carissa Duhamel – Copy Editor
Lactose-intolerant individuals, this article does not apply to you. But cheese-enthusiasts, loosen the top button on your pants, sit back, and read on for a recount of the curd-filled dream that is a visit to New Haven’s downtown bistro and fromagerie, Caseus.
Located on Whitney Avenue minutes away from the New Haven Green, restaurant Caseus offers up aged dairy delectables to customers like grilled cheese sandwiches and mac and cheese with a French twist, but we’re not talking your run of the mill Wonderbread and Land-o’-Lakes combination or Easy Mac. Instead, owner Jason Soboncinski takes the childhood comfort food classics from G rated to adult restricted by adding gourmet interpretations like a six cheese and upwards ingredients list to the milk-product and pasta dish including high-nose favorites like Raclette, Comte, Chevre, and Gruyere. Paired with a generous glass of white wine, the result is a perfect blend of culinary worlds for the young college-age hopeful sophisticate not quite ready to shed beloved staples of his teenage palette.
In addition to high-brow renditions of cherished mom-made meals, Caseus offers charmingly rustic francophone favorites like a simple cheese board. Elegant in its lack of pretension, the dish presents four seasonal cheeses accompanied by house-made jam and local artisan breads. I was lucky enough to dine on a night that included a Willy Wonka snozberry worthy jelly concocted from a combination of strawberry, plum, and port wine plated alongside a wonderfully nutty French cheese called Camembert le Châtelain, which was delicious.
Other affordable collegiate choices include a small plate of butter and bread. The working class idiom dish is elevated beyond nineteenth century industrialist connotations to wuthering heights by the house butter, which accompanies a selection of local bakery-made breads. Better described as a spread, the butter is incorporated with weekly varying ingredients for an almost overly palatably pleasurable effect.
I tasted a “carrot top” rendition of the butter, which combined the fat with the tops of the aforementioned vegetable, shallots, garlic, ground pecans, Cavarro parmesan cheese, salt and pepper, and even more irresistibly self-indulgent richness in the form of olive oil. Slathered atop warm, fluffy artisan buns, this dish elevates bread and butter from basic to anything but.
Perhaps most titillating of all, Caseus offers a dessert that leaves cocoa lovers in some purgatory-like state between taste-euphoria and diabetes. The sweet is called a “Chocolate Pot de Crème,” and marries a creamy yet substantial pudding with a blueberry plum jam, and tucks them into their conjugal bed with a hefty layer of vanilla bean whipped cream, granola, and confectioners sugar. More like a “Pot de Mort;” the first dip of your spoon into this chocolate reverie will send you reeling into the back of your chair with disbelieving satisfaction, and possibly reaching for a shot of insulin.
Owner and Cooking Channel resident cheese expert, Sobocinski, explained his motivation behind creating dishes like these for his customers, “This is the kind of food I would want to eat. Everyone here from the men in the cheese shop, to John, my chef; we really love what we are doing.”
For my mouth and stomach’s sake, please let them continue to harbor this love, because after sampling the food from Caseus, life without it just doesn’t seem like a viable option.