The cheese cart includes delicate Tête de Moine, a Swiss cow's milk cheese that is shaved into feathery rosettes.

The cheese cart includes delicate Tête de Moine, a Swiss cow's milk cheese that is shaved into feathery rosettes.

Tom Fox/Staff Photographer

Despite the new a la carte menu, there isn't a great way to have a light meal at the French Room without spending hundreds of dollars. But there is a way to enjoy some of the most extravagant elements of the restaurant — the elegance of the dining room, the formal service, the fascinating wine list — without dropping a fortune: The tableside cheese service ($25) is a high point of a dinner there, and with its generous portions, it's ideal to share over a glass of wine you probably won't find at another restaurant in the city.

Choose five cheeses from the excellent selection on the cart, from the delicate Tête de Moine, shaved into feathery rosettes, to a slice of perfectly ripened Roquefort. You'll want a glass of something equally complex to go with them, say, the Jean Francois Ganevat Vieux Macvin ($17), a fortified white blend from the Jura that tastes of fruit and earth. Or a glass of Lustau Almacenista Oloroso "Pata de Gallina" ($15), a richly textured, deeply flavored sherry. Or better yet, get the most from the experience and have a conversation with sommelier Leslie Hartman, who invariably has her own exciting suggestions.

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