If you have been a Yalie for a while, chances are you have been a patron at Caseus.
Probably best known for its nomadic Cheese Truck, Caseus has been an epicurean pioneer within the New Haven cheese market. It was not unreasonable for me to sit down in their bar stool with high hopes.
The setting and mood was all too familiar — relaxed, cordial, quaint yet accessible. However, once I got to look through their Restaurant Week menu, I was direly underwhelmed.
It was not the number of choices that threw me off, but the simplicity of the suggested dishes. As a first course, I could only pick from basic Caseus offerings like a panini, an organic “salad of the day,” or a mac & cheese. A blonde was an option for dessert.
I went for a mac & cheese/chocolate pot d’crème [sic] two-course meal.
The first part of my lunch can be defined as a gooey, cheesy mouth tsunami. The mac & cheese plate houses a mélange of over five different cheese types, including a gouda from [very interesting place in Bretagne] and a gruyere from [very obscure place in Argentina]. The taste was not overpowering, and the brioche breadcrumbs were an accomplished textural break.
While I am the biggest fan of cacao-derived products ever since the Popol Vuh, the pot de crème disappointed. The tiny dollop of cream was delectable; the chocolate was about the right amount of bitter. But the custard’s consistency should have aimed for loose, not thick.
Despite the subpar Restaurant Week menu, even if you are a Caseus veteran, you will leave somewhat satisfied. But it is clear that for the restaurant, this week is all about catering to customers looking for their first cheesy culinary experience.