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Best Cheese

Artisanal
2 Park Avenue, at 32nd Street
212-725-8585

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Picholine, home to New York's most acclaimed collection of obscure pedigreed cheeses, has been bumped into second place by its newly opened sister restaurant, Artisanal. With nearly 250 varieties, Artisanal has the largest cheese selection in the country. Fromagier Max McCalman splits his time between the two restaurants, doting on his cheeses like a mother over her children. You are, as a result, unlikely to find a better fondue anywhere -- or, for that matter, another restaurant with a fondue of the day. We like one of the menu regulars, the Artisanal Blend of Beaufort, Fribourgeois, and Taleggio. (The "petite" version, $20, serves two as a starter; the "grande," $38, three to five.) Order cheeses in place of dessert, or indulge in a flight of cheeses paired with wine (we once tasted twenty cheeses in a single sitting, along with six wines). And best of all, if you fall in love with something really stinky, you can buy a wedge to take home from Artisanal's retail shop.


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