Raclette Frankly on Cherokee

Creamy raclette tops fries at Frankly on Cherokee.

Melted raclette is a traditional Swiss dish: the semi-hard cow’s milk cheese is heated (sometimes tableside), and the melted cheese is scraped – or racler, in French – onto potatoes or vegetables. New York City has an entire restaurant dedicated to raclette; in the Midwest, local restaurants are featuring the gooey favorite scraped to order. It's as popular as it is pungent.

The Bread Company

Although raclette has been on the menu for more than 20 years at The Bread Company in Urbana, Illinois, chef Thomas Almeida still gets a lot of questions about it. “With fondue, [diners] understand it’s a pot of melted cheese, whereas with raclette, we have to explain it’s a different dish,” Almeida says. “It’s definitely a bit more on the pungent side, so if somebody’s adverse to stronger cheeses, I recommend they try the fondue instead, which is a little more mild in flavor.” At The Bread Company, raclette is heated in cast-iron pans in the oven and served with toasted bread, roasted potatoes, gherkins and pickled onions. The menu has expanded over the years to include things like pizza and pasta, but raclette and fondue have always been staples at the European-inspired eatery. “Raclette itself has a deliciously oaky flavor,” Almeida says. “When it’s melted down, that pungent smell kind of dissipates so you’re left with this delicious, creamy, oaky melted cheese.”

The Bread Company, 706 S. Goodwin Ave., Urbana, Illinois, 217.383.1007, thebread.co

Frankly on Cherokee

Cawthon resisted the call for cheese fries as long as he could. The chef, who owns food truck Frankly Sausages and its storefront, Frankly on Cherokee, with his wife, Jamie, gave in to customer demand last summer and added creamy raclette to his famous hand-cut fries. “I’m very particular about our fries; it’s just the potato and salt,” Cawthon says. “I was like, 'I’m never gonna make cheese sauce. Our fries are the star, we don’t want them to get all soggy.'” But after waiting an hour and a half for raclette at Cowgirl Creamery in San Francisco at the behest of his brother-in-law, Cawthon gave in. The raclette fries have proved so popular at both the food truck and the restaurant that the Cawthons added loaded raclette fries last month, topped with housemade pancetta and caramelized onions. “Just another little thing to make it that much more unhealthy,” Cawthon says with a laugh. “It’s been funny – we do a ton of work making sausages and all this other stuff, and literally all of our reviews are like, ‘The sausages, but tell me about the cheese fries!’ I’m like, 'Calm down!' But they’re pretty damn good.”

Frankly on Cherokee, 2744 Cherokee St., Cherokee Business District, St. Louis, Missouri, 314.449.1178, franklysausages.com

Andre's Confiserie Suisse

At the tea room at Andre’s Confiserie Suisse, which has downtown Kansas City and Overland Park, Kansas, locations, Swiss and French raclette cheeses are served the traditional Swiss way: over boiled potatoes. In Switzerland, it’s also often paired with pickled onions or cornichons. “Now, raclette has kind of transformed. People have, for lack of a better word, modernized it,” says co-owner Rene Bollier. “People do it with pancetta and garlic, over bread or vegetables. You’re seeing raclette everywhere over the last year.” The Swiss raclette used at Andre’s is pasteurized and tends to be more firm, with a less sharp flavor; the unpasteurized French raclette is nuttier, sharper and creamier. Andre’s melts raclette in the kitchen, and once it gets bubbly, it’s poured over the potatoes and hit with a little smoked paprika. “My 11-year-old daughter coined the term ‘cheese and conversation,’ because it’s one of those meals that takes a long time,” Bollier says. “Each individual portion [of the meal] has to melt, so it tends to be a very long meal, which is a ton of fun for a dinner party because you get time to sit and talk.”

Andre’s Confiserie Suisse, multiple locations, andreschocolates.com