East Village Cheese Shop

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

$3.40. That’s all I had. After reading review after review declaring how “cheap” the East Village Cheese Shop was, I decided to give it a shot. I would go in there with the change I had in my pocket and see what I could come out with.

As it turns out, I could have bought quite a bit, but not much was anything I’d want to walk away with. As you enter the store, the front windows are covered with specials. Grana Padano for $7.99, 8oz of Brie for $1.50…such deals, it boggles the mind.

How can cheese be that cheap? On the web, I’ve heard a lot of answers, but quality is rarely one of them.

I found it ironic that, while many reviewers described it as “good cheese for American cheese prices!”, they failed to find the parallels. It’s true that Camembert, no matter how poor, will win out over Kraft slices. But when the Camembert is a processed, factory produced cheese that just happens to be made in France instead of America, just how much of a difference is there?

Those qualms aside, there are some valid reasons to head to the East Village Cheese Shop: their crackers and biscuits are the very same brands carried at other speciality food shops and are, on average, $0.30-$0.50 less. They also offer a full line of Ben’s cream cheese, which is some of the best in the city, at a similar discount.

In their cheese case, they have the same line of Goudas that other major shops carry, at almost $5.00 less a pound. The Midnight Moon (a young goat gouda), in particular, was an excellent deal at $9.99/lb.

There are two major caveats to even these though: tastings are not allowed, so you need to know what you’re getting into beforehand, and the minimum purchase is a half pound. However, at their prices, I don’t see the latter as much of a barrier.

So what did I get with my $3.40? An Italian ice down the street.