Say Cheese - Restaurant Review

Posted on 13. Dec, 2009 by in Lifestyle

Rich, distinctive, aromatic cheese is an essential part of a balanced holiday experience. And you won’t find a better selection—or a more knowledgeable staff—than at Say Cheese in Los Angeles. Owner Glenn Harrell grew up in the neighborhood and returned 14 years ago, bringing his passion for, and ever-expanding knowledge of, glorious cheese back home. He bought the business 10 years ago from Julie Noyes, who owned the store for 12 years. (Say Cheese opened in 1972.) Harrell estimates the shop has 175 or more cheeses on hand year-round, with that number doubling during the holiday season. He is able to procure an exclusive Comte, of which only 25 wheels are produced each year. Of those 25, only two make it to the U.S., and Say Cheese is the only place on the West Coast you’ll find it this season. The Cheese Whiz of Los Feliz (okay, his store is Los Feliz – adjacent) then beckons me behind the counter for a mouth-watering guided tour of pungent proportions. He shaves delicate slivers from various blocks—we sample 14 varieties in all.

Glenn Harrell

The Moliterno  is injected with black truffles and mushrooms after aging for 75 days. “This is a real holiday cheese,” says Harrell, admiring the rich, dark vein of truffles. Once I began experiencing these wonderful cheeses, it was like being in the middle of a good book you don’t want to put down. We sample three different goudas—aged six months, three years, and five years—the second of which bears strong notes of caramel and almonds. (Harrell instructs me that the true pronunciation of gouda is how-da.) Next I am treated to heavenly Brillat-Savarin triple crème brie. Then Harrell asks me point blank: “Do you like stronger cheeses?” Things are about to get serious. He serves up a Berthaut Affine au Chablis; it’s runny and pungent. “It’s a soft cheese from Burgundy, washed with Chablis—it gets very strong with age,” imparts Harrell. My impression: It’s like no other cheese I’ve tasted. I feel like I need to invent a new adjective to describe it properly.
By the pound, the goudas run about $20; all the others range from $30-40. The store, which also has a row of tables on the other side of the semi-open kitchen, is open daily and has expanded its hours for the holidays. Please visit for details. As I’m leaving, Harrell apologizes for not having his “absolute best” holiday cheeses in yet. Hardly feeling cheated, I leave Say Cheese with a broader understanding of the diverse properties of a staple of the Yuletide season.

2800 Hyperion Avenue
Los Angeles, CA

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