Having a partner turns bouncing a ball into a tennis match, a monologue into a conversation, and a bear attack into a slightly longer bear attack. Experience the power of pairing with today’s Groupon: for $39, you get a prix fixe chef’s tasting menu for two (up to a $66 value) paired with a local-beer flight (a $24 value) at Marion Street Cheese Market in Oak Park (up to a $90 total value).
Marion Street Cheese Market stocks its shelves with locally produced foodstuffs and craft beers, pairing the two to populate seasonal menus available in its café. Like water on pavement or water on a statue of a bathrobe, cheese finds its way into every nook of executive chef Leonard Hollander’s tastings for two. Previous menus have commenced with nearby Seymour Dairy’s culinary handiwork such as baby spinach leaves cushioning a smattering of plump dried cherries, crumbled blue cheese, and toasted walnuts beneath a drizzle of white-balsamic vinaigrette. Second courses have included an entree that stills stomach squalls with a choice of dinner bedazzlements—veggies or meat—atop a creamy maelstrom of elbow pasta and cheese. Craft beers from local breweries such as Two Brothers, Three Floyds, and Metropolitan chaperone each bite’s journey toward epicurean hunger lairs, and dessert might parachute onto savory-sweet tongue beaches with a velvety triple-crème cheese—flanked by local preserves, honey, and marcona almonds.
Recently granted Green Certification status for its restaurant, Marion Street Cheese Market also maintains an extensive retail shop and curates a cheese selection deemed the Best of Chicago 2008 by readers of the Chicago Reader, locally made charcuterie, and life-size replicas of Ernest Hemingway’s bicycle carved out of gouda.