The cheese board: if you’ve spent any time online in the past year, especially on TikTok, you’re probably familiar with these beautifully curated and delicious assortments of cheese, meats, crackers, and other accoutrements. But a cheese board that’s expertly crafted, with cheeses you love (and are about to love) alongside the best, chef-picked ingredients – that’s a whole other ball game. Enter: Murray’s Cheese Bar in Long Island City.
Based in NYC, Murray’s Cheese is well-known and loved across the country for its wide selection of fine cheeses, meats, spreads, chocolate, and more. They have several locations, but their most recent, Murray’s Cheese Bar, offers the best of both worlds: a shop filled with the latest and greatest in thoughtfully curated ingredients, and a restaurant for nights when you want to leave it to the experts.
The best part? Murray’s Cheese Bar is our new neighbor! Located just a short walk away from ALTA by Common in Long Island City, we see this cozy spot becoming a local favorite for our members — if it’s not on their list already.
We caught up with Clare and Brendan, Head Chef and Assistant Restaurant Manager at Murray’s Cheese Bar to get the low-down on their favorite menu items, what they love about the neighborhood, and of course: the ultimate cheese board.
Hi Clare and Brendan! Please introduce yourself: what is your role at Murray’s Cheese and what’s your favorite part about being on the team?
Brendan: I’m the Assistant Restaurant Manager at Murray’s Cheese Bar. My favorite part about being on the team is being able to work with so many creative individuals. Our success is a collaborative effort, and we owe it to our team’s fluid dynamic.
Clare: I am the Head Chef of Murray’s Cheese! I manage in tandem with Brendan to help create the guest experience in our restaurant from start to finish. We’ve designed the food and beverage menus and activated initiatives to set ourselves apart from our other businesses.
Your Long Island City location has over 400 items, including the perfect picks for making the ultimate cheese board. What are your crowd-pleasing cheese board essentials? Any recommendations for someone just starting to expand their palette beyond cheddar?
Brendan: At Murray’s Cheese we like to expand palates. My crowd pleasing essentials are: a nutty, 3 year Roomano with Pistachio Butter; a buttery, decadent triple creme (Cremeaux d’ Bourgogne) with white, clover honey; and a mushroomy Camembert with cornichons or pickled Cipollini Onions.
Clare: I go through phases so it’s more about what’s in season and experimentation for me personally. I’m currently obsessed with the Primo Raspberry Habanero Jam paired with any of our amazing brie-style cheeses. I also put it on peanut butter and jelly sandwiches using our Cream Nut Natural Peanut Butter. For cheese boards, we always want to hit all the different textures and flavor notes, including crunchy, creamy, sweet, salty, umami and so on.
What’s your favorite menu item?
Brendan: My absolute favorite menu item is our House made Red Pepper Cavatelli, served in Vodka Sauce, with fresh basil, topped with a creamy Burrata. It’s all around scrumptious, and tastes like “More!”
Clare: I love the lamb meatballs and know they are a staff and guest favorite as well. There’s a medley of flavors coming together to create a very balanced dish that has a little bit of something for everyone. The mozzarella in the meatballs helps us to bind the meat and create a gluten-free meatball, while the spiced labneh perfectly compliments our herbaceous chimichurri and the rich meatiness of the meatballs themselves. Garnished with bread and roasted rainbow carrots, the dish hits on all the taste buds and highlights cheeses we sell in a totally new light.
Tell us more about Long Island City! What do you love about being in the neighborhood?
Brendan: Aside from its proximity to Manhattan, I love the diversity of LIC and it’s trendy, up and coming bar/restaurant scene. I live in the area, and on my days off you can find me perusing Vernon Blvd in search of a cocktail and a bite to eat.
Clare: I fell in love with the laid back vibe of the neighborhood as soon as I started working in the area. Our neighbors are so friendly and many are adventurous eaters and eager to support their local businesses. It’s certainly been an unpredictable year, but seeing our guests come back and getting to know the people in the neighborhood has created a really fulfilling environment for all of us to share our love of cheese.
If a customer came in and didn’t know what they wanted, what would you recommend and why?
Brendan: I’d suggest a Cheesemonger’s Choice Cheese and Charcuterie plate– it offers a full spectrum cheese tasting uniquely crafted by our Chef and Cheesemongers! Aside from the Cheese boards, I would highly recommend our signature Radiatore Mac and Cheese made with our creamy house made Mornay sauce and secret blend of cheeses. Truly to die for!
Clare: I would highly recommend one of our cheese plates to an undecided guest. We approach cheese with a lot of passion and work to create the perfect cheese experience for each individual guest. We consider preferences and interests and our variety of cheeses is constantly changing so it becomes an adventure to take our guests on. The stories behind each cheese allow the staff to paint a picture for the party to enjoy along with their cheeses. It’s also a great opportunity for guests to explore cheeses they might otherwise stay away from when purchasing for themselves.
If you could open a Murray’s Cheese in any other city, which one would it be?
Brendan: I’d have to say Montreal! With it’s thriving food scene, Murray’s would be another reason to visit.
Clare: San Francisco! One of my favorite things to cook with cheese is produce. There are so many amazing varieties of fruits and vegetables that thrive in the California weather and it’d be a blast to experiment with different cheeses. Not to mention the amazing creameries of San Francisco.
Besides Murray’s Cheese, the one place everyone in Long Island City should visit is?
Brendan: My ABSOLUTE favorite restaurant in LIC is Casa Enrique. It is the only restaurant in all of Queens with a Michelin Star. If you love authentic Mexican cuisine and specialty cocktails paired with stellar service, this is your place! Please do yourself the favor!
Clare: The Piers! They are such a wonderful place to enjoy the city without the usual chaos. Admire the Manhattan skyline and breathe in some fresh air. I’ve spent many days and nights in solace there.
Explore Murray’s Cheese Bar and Long Island City
Thanks Clare and Brendan! Is anyone else suddenly hungry? We think a trip to Murray’s Cheese Bar is in our very near future. To learn more about Murray’s Cheese and make a reservation at their restaurant, visit their website! They also offer online ordering for all your cheeseboard needs.
Interested in making Long Island City your home? We offer fully-furnished coliving suites alongside incredible amenities and all-inclusive rent at ALTA by Common in Long Island City. Explore our spaces and book a free tour today!