Mission Cheese (San Francisco, CA)

(Update: After about a decade in operation, Mission Cheese closed at the end of 2020)

After a bit more roaming around the Mission with Emily, we decided that checking out Mission Cheese would be a good idea for lunch, especially since they had opened only a few weeks before.

Mission Cheese is actually quite a simple concept: a neighbor restaurant space with a menu focusing on, well, cheese, as well as raclettes, light plates, and sandwiches featuring cheeses. The idea is to find some really good cheeses and make sharing plates and sandwiches that highlight them.

I should take a moment here to mention a fact that sometimes causes me embarrassment in some food circles: I’m not particularly a fan of cheeses, between being moderately lactose-intolerant, and having a dislike of the general taste of the “stinkier” end of the cheese spectrum. That said, I’m still a fan of many cheese dishes, including pizza (I’ve written up more than a few pizza places here), a good grilled cheese, or even the occasional item like a perfectly-executed British cheese on toast. So, knowing that Mission Cheese wasn’t just cheese tasting plates, I decided to give it a try.

Walking into Mission Cheese, the first thing you see is a fairly large bar for both seating, and displaying of several cheeses. Behind the bar is an immaculate cheese case containing the rest of their wares (I didn’t seen anything confirming this, but all the cheeses I saw there were also all American, without any foreign cheeses. But that may have been just that day). Looking over the menu, they had several nice cheese plates (labeled “flights” like a wine bar would), representing several different regions and styles (from “Midwest” to “Monger’s Choice: For the brave!”). Under that were several sandwiches, mac and cheese, and raclette. Deciding that I was in the mood for a light lunch, I opted for the Pork and Cheese sandwich.

Served up as a panini, the Pork and Cheese was a nice Gruyere, salami, cornichons, and mustard sandwich. Everything was good here, the gruyere flavorful without overwhelming the other flavors, and it was perfectly melted. The salami was slightly salty and had nice meaty notes, combining nicely with the cheese in the manner you expect in a good ham-and-cheese sandwich. The cornichon gave just enough crunch and a slight sour note that balanced things out nicely, and the whole seed mustard balanced it all out nicely. The bread itself was rich and hearty, and toasted to the point of having that nice Maillard reaction going while not being toasted to the point it tears your mouth apart. Really, it reminded me nicely of the perfectly-executed cheese on toast I refered to above. Coupled with a properly-dressed mixed lettuce salad, and it was a good meal. Emily also enjoyed her “California Gold” sandwich, with several cheeses, prosciutto, and fig preserve on a panini.

I’d really like to go back sometime and try the raclette or the mac and cheese (both of which were being enjoyed by nearby tables).

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