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Hot cheese for cold nights

When it's cold outside, there's nothing quite like a warm blanket of melted cheese. Here are six cheesy dishes we recommend for this time of year.

Tartiflette Savoyarde at Bistrot du Coin

A specialty from the Alpine regions of Savoie and Haute-Savoie, this is the perfect apres-ski dish: a gratin of potatoes, onions and bacon smothered in nutty, super-creamy Reblochon cheese and baked in a cast-iron pan until the cheese turns crispy and golden brown. The result is sinfully delicious. For an even-more-filling alternative, Bistrot du Coin offers a similar dish from the same region: croziflette, which swaps the potatoes for a buckwheat pasta and adds slivers of French ham. ($8.25 for a small portion; $15.50 large.)

Welsh rarebit at Martin's Tavern

This thick and tasty version of the pub staple finds cheddar cheese spiked with heavy cream and Yuengling, which we're guessing provides the light caramel sweetness. Mustard and paprika are dusted atop the piping-hot bowl. (If that's not enough, bartenders will offer you a bottle of hot sauce.) Mop up the cheese with slices of whole wheat toast, and you'll want to sip a Yuengling (on draft, of course) for the full effect. ($9.95.)

Blue Crab Mac N Cheese at City Tap House

Diners are used to fancy takes on the humble mac and cheese, with additions of lobster or country ham. More rare, however, is a restaurant that adds blue crab in a supporting role. City Tap House's mac and cheese does just this. The house pasta is good on its own, hidden beneath a layer of cheese and crunchy breadcrumbs in a hot iron skillet, but make sure to scoop up some of the earthy fontina cheese, because there are nuggets of jumbo lump meat hiding in the sauce. ($14.)

Onion soup gratinee at Le Diplomate

The key to a good French onion soup, in our opinion, isn't just the rich carmelization of its titular ingredient. It's equally about the Gruyere cheese that's presented, brown and bubbling, atop a raft of French bread. It's best when said cheese is so melty that it can't be eaten neatly: If there are strings of cheese that bind your spoon to the miniature crock of soup, then you know you're doing it right. There's nothing we want more on a rainy night than Le Diplomate's ultra-rich soupe a l'oignon -- and the threads of cheese that stuck to our chins that come along with it. ($12.50.)

Fondue at Eno

Sure, it may conjure up memories of '70s parties or suburban trips to the Melting Pot, but fondue is a dish that will never go out of style. Wine and cheese bar Eno has resurrected fondue for winter in a red Le Creuset crock filled with melted Emmenthal and Gruyere cheeses. According to Swiss tradition, anyone who drops their bread in the fondue pot is obligated to buy the next round of drinks, so be sure to have speared your dipping item of choice securely. If not, select bottles of wine are half-price on Mondays. ($19, serves two to three people.)

Saganaki at Cava Mezze

You know what makes this cheese great? FIRE. Saganaki is a square of kefalograviera, a Greek sheep's-milk cheese. When your server brings it to the table in a mini cast-iron pan, he or she will douse it in brandy and, with a huge whoosh, set it aflame. It's not some piddly little birthday candle fire, either -- you will feel the heat of a huge fireball from several tables away, over and over again, as everyone around you inevitably orders this dish after seeing your table of flaming cheese. We're pretty sure some brave servers may have lost their eyebrows in the line of duty. But yours are safe: When the alcohol burns off, the cheese is topped with a splash of lemon juice and presented to you, still sizzling. ($9.95.)

Cheese Toasty at Duke's Grocery

Filled with Gruyere, grana, Gouda, sauteed leeks, red onion and a very generous slathering of truffle butter, this is what grilled cheese sandwiches dream of becoming when they grow up. ($9)