Last summer, I was with friends on a local bus tour to a few beer-centric stops around the area. One of our final stops was at Buckhead Mountain Grill in Jeffersonville, which has a fairly impressive tap list. We’d already had a few beers along the way, so someone ordered appetizers for the group.
One of those appetizers was something called “cheese boulders.” Through my fog, I recall the one I ate as being absolutely delicious — just a big ol’ ball of melty, wonderful cheese. Of course, as time passed, I had since considered that my enthusiasm was simply the day’s beer consumption playing tricks on my memories (or what was left of those memories by the next morning).
So, as my buddy, Rob, and I were planning to meet for lunch recently, I suggested Buckhead, giving me an opportunity to try the cheese boulders while sober, to either confirm or deny the perceived deliciousness.
I was a little surprised that the appetizer is $9.49, but I went for it anyway, and soon was presented with six fried orbs, all perhaps the size of golf balls, give or take. A couple of them may have been a tad bigger. They came with a cup of marinara sauce for dipping. Rob, because he actually likes the way his heart and intestines currently function, decided to have a salad.
I offered him one of my six boulders of cheese, and he declined, but he did make an observation that the wads of thick, gooey cheese resemble hush puppies.
“Those look like cheese puppies,” he said. He wasn’t wrong.
What struck me first was that the cheese boulders were sprinkled with shredded white cheese, which likely was Parmesan. I could only assume these shredded cheese sprinkles were intended as sarcasm. Or irony. I imagined the conversation during menu development to be something like this:
“Let’s see, we have these giant globs of fried cheese on the menu. How shall we garnish them?”
“Put cheese on them! That will be hilarious!”
Anyway, I cut into one with my fork, and the sheer mass of thick, orange cheese that began to slowly drip forth was staggering. The outer crust is fairly thick, apparently to hold the cheese in place, giving the things a lot of density — more so than, say, a standard fried mozzarella stick.
On the menu, the appetizer is described only as being a “secret blend of homemade cheeses.” I’d say it was something along the lines of medium cheddar, pepper jack and mozzarella, just based on the flavor and consistency. The cheese mix was actually quite tasty, with plenty of spice, plus a bit of sharpness to go with it. Talk about a guilty pleasure.
Well, I annihilated the first one, and quickly dug into a second. Sure enough, it was delicious. About halfway through that second boulder, I began to realize that this is a dish meant to be shared, like I did the first time I tried it. Folks, that’s a lot of cheese. I got through the second one, and my stomach began to protest. Undeterred, I decided I would eat as many as I could. (No wasting cheese!)
By No. 3, the cheese had begun to congeal and clump a bit, no longer holding the same gooey consistency. I’m pretty sure I could even feel it starting to clump in my belly. But I pressed on, making my way through the third cheese-wad at a much slower pace than I did the first two.
Finished, I slowly transferred No. 4 to my plate. The globs were still very tasty (and beginning to taste kind of salty), but by the time I finally made it through the fourth, I felt like I had concrete in my stomach. The feeling subsided after an hour or so, but, at first, it wasn’t terribly pleasant.
Of course, as I noted, this is clearly a dish built for sharing, so I can’t complain — no one forced me to eat so much fried cheese.
Here’s the bottom line: The Buckhead Mountain Grill cheese boulders are delicious, but four is too many. One is perfect, but the first one tastes so good that it makes you want a second. That’s when it gets dangerous. Do you go for No. 3? Best case is that you share with two to three other people, pretty much ensuring that you’ll eat no more than two.
And if you have a larger party, and the cheese boulders disappear quickly, prompting someone to suggest getting another order, you bind and gag that person and order a side salad for them. It’s for their own protection.