It doesn't come as a surprise that the second location of St. James Cheese Company appears to be doing pretty well. Though distinct from its Uptown predecessor, the concept at the bright and airy Warehouse District space is much the same: an eclectic cheese and charcuterie selection is rounded out by gourmet sandwiches and a few cheese-heavy salads.
The shop-cum-restaurant stays busy with passersby popping in for a wedge of cheese, and while the commerce aspect of the grab-and-go shop is a nice amenity, its allure as a gourmet sandwich and lunchtime spot is stronger.
Much of the menu mirrors that of the Prytania Street flagship, including classics such as the excellent Brie de Meaux and French ham sandwich, the epitome of simplicity. But there are new creations as well, including dishes that feature an array of international inspirations.
In a Spanish-style bocadillo, thick slices of charred and crispy La Quercia lomo are complemented by melted manchego and nutty arugula dressed with tangy pimiento aioli. The open-faced sandwich is topped with a sunny side up egg that, when broken, runs into the crevasses of the crusty bread. It straddles the line between breakfast and lunch but is good anytime.
Raclette, the Swiss alpine standby of melted cow's milk cheese, brought me back to childhood meals in Germany when we'd sit around the table, scraping gobs of the melted mess onto our plates. Here, the melted cheese carries the trademark barnyard funk and is blanketed across crisp potatoes interspersed with caramelized onions, reminiscent of those found at the bottom of a bowl of French onion soup. Briny cornichons add the salty crunch that balances out the rich dish.
The whimsically named Peachy Pig features two large Italian pork sausage patties and melted Taleggio wedges on a pistolette dressed with chunky peach chutney. The peaches' sweetness balances the spice from the sausage, and pickled red peppers and arugula lend texture and color. Though delicious, it's a monster of a sandwich and a lot to tackle alone.
Portions can be generous, and in some instances, completely over the top. The Cantal salad arrives topped with a mountain of sliced French ham, throwing off the delicate balance of ingredients. The salad has a pleasing mix of walnuts, tart apple slices and Cantal cheese shavings, but it's hard to get past the pile of meat.
The space feels like more of a daytime and early evening haunt, but don't skip the goat cheese bread pudding dessert. Topped with warm caramel sauce and blueberries, it's a salty, sweet and creamy indulgence.
Even though the sandwiches are on point, one would be remiss to overlook the mix-and-match meat and cheese board offerings here. After all, when the sandwiches are stripped of other accoutrements, those main attractions are what earned St. James its reputation.