Marion Street Cheese Market

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When Eric Larson moved his 740-square-foot cheese shop under the el tracks last summer, his four-year-old business blossomed into a 4,200-square-foot food and drink emporium. 
Larson's expansion into the Opera Club building made room at one end of the new, multifaceted space — laid out with shelves of uncommon kitchenware and an upscale grocery, with wine gallery and craft beer fridge — for a 50-seat café.


Dining here is sharing; small plates rule. Though if you arrive with an appetite and must have a dish all your own, you've got such large-plate options as lager-battered shrimp, sugar cane-braised pork, and lump crab cakes with pear and papaya salad. 

 

Otherwise, you have more than a dozen choices in flights of artisan cheeses and sliced gourmet meats. Sit back and soak in details that well-trained servers engagingly offer.
Listen you must, because the most specialty-studded menu in town packs as much education as it does adventure. Beets here are yellow. Pâté goes beyond liver: Count on duck, pork and chicken. A cured ham from Spain comes from an heirloom breed of black-footed pigs that eat only wild acorns. And, of course, there's that cheese to buzz about: One handmade ravello comes from water buffalos in Vermont.

 

For all such splashes of exotica, most dishes are made from farm-fresh ingredients in the Midwest. Locavore leanings extend to dessert and beverages. Gelato comes from Mancini's in downtown Oak Park. Coffee, served in press pots, comes from Blue Max in Forest Park. Tea, served loose, comes from Todd & Holland, also in Forest Park.

 

Just as you'll find elsewhere in this Disney World for foodies, presentations in the café at Marion Street Cheese Market are artfully out of the ordinary. A latte, the perfect finish to many a meal, is a masterpiece when served by Marisa the barista. Her feathery squiggles of chocolate syrup top each no-foam brew with symmettry at its sweetest. An option for hot chocolate, too. No doubt about it: Here, you'll get spoiled.

Reader Comments

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OPRFFB Letterman 1964 from River Forest  

Posted: January 9th, 2014 6:14 PM

A client gave me a gift card for this restaurant. Frankly, it is outstanding. The only other venue that that is better is Kevils, At Kevils a guy can have a great steak with a couple of martinis and not "buy the ranch". Additonaly Kevils does not charge extra for blue chesse dressing. I will be back at the Cheese Market.

Pucker Up!  

Posted: December 10th, 2012 12:50 PM

'linda' said: "...we weren't offered anything except lip service." Well, depending on which manager was on duty at time, that may very well be worth the wait!

linda marrandino  

Posted: October 15th, 2011 4:04 PM

Our visit was extremely disappoining. The restaurant was overpriced and the service was terrible. We were in the restaurant for two hours. It was an hour and twenty minutes before any food arrived. When we complained to the manager we weren't offered anything except lip service. He just wanted to get us out of there. Don't waste your time and your money on this place. There are more worthy places that deserve your business.

Resident from Oak Park  

Posted: June 29th, 2011 11:28 AM

I like the new menu better. I guess everyone is a critic, as they say. I tried MSCM after they first opened in the larger location and wasn't so keen on the food, but when I tried it recently I was pleasantly surprised and plan to go back! I appreciate that they are trying to use local foods.

Elizabeth from Oak park  

Posted: June 15th, 2011 7:05 PM

Loved this place before they changed the menu... Much trendier, more meat heavy, More expensive, less homey...bummer

Kathleen Wrobel from Oak Park  

Posted: February 18th, 2011 7:43 PM

A Great Escape! Thank you,Eric.There are many fine restaurants in Oak Park that offer good service, good food and nice surroundings. Marion Street Cheese Market is BEYOND fine. Three of us had lunch at MSCM this afternoon. First time for each of us. From the moment we walked in until 2 hours later when we left we experienced phenominal service beginning with our hostess, Corey. She knew everything about the menu... Gordon Ramsey would have loved her. Leonard Hollander offers a unique me