Cheese has been called “milk’s leap to immortality,” and in Europe, fine cheeses have always been a part of a grand dining experience. U.S. restaurants have caught on, promoting cheese courses — a great departure from dessert — alongside homemade breads, dried fruits, and a selection of ports and after-dinner wines.

Just in the past year, many once-hesitant restaurateurs have added cheeses to their menus following the success of New York’s Artisanal (2 Park Ave., 212-725-8585), where chef/owner Terrance Brennan keeps more than 200 different cheeses in a specially built fromagerie and serves them along with his lusty French and American brasserie fare. Here are a number of other establishments around the country that take cheese seriously and enjoy nothing more than educating guests about the diversity of one of nature’s perfect foods.

atlanta:bacchanalia, 1198 howell mountain rd., (404) 365-0410
boston:l’espalier, 30 gloucester st., (617) 262-3023
chicago:charlie trotter’s, 816 w. armitage ave., (773) 248-6228
dallas:arcodoro & pomodoro, 2708 routh st., (214) 871-1924
new york:gramercy tavern, 42 e. 20th st., (212) 477-0777
san francisco:gary danko, 800 n. point st., (415) 749-2060