Belly Up to Cheese Bar

When Steve Jones announced that he was moving his revered cheese shop from its cozy nook inside Northwest Portland’s Square Deal Wines to the old Parkside Deli digs in Mt. Tabor and fattening it up into a cheese shop/café/neighborhood hangout, you knew instantly which side of the river Portland cheeselovers lived on by the resulting screams of joy/great gulping sobs.

Last week Steve opened his straightforwardly-dubbed Cheese Bar at the corner of SE Belmont & 61st Avenue, where the wedge and wheel crowd can now flock for everything from creamy Bries and blues to odoriferous Langres, a full selection of charcuterie, specialty groceries, sandwiches, salads, soups, small plates, and happily, chocolate. If you’re thinking something’s missing, and that something is alcohol, fear not–on Tuesday, Cheese Bar begins serving beer and wine.

I took a long walk up Belmont yesterday to poke around.

Part cheesemonger, part cheese curator, soft-spoken Steve presides over a compact but impeccably stocked case, filled with everything from your wildest cheese dreams.

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A Steve and his cheese

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The narrow, neat-as-a-pin shop has cheese and charcuterie cases, a short bar, and a few tables that will likely be hard to come by when word gets out.

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Ayers Creek preserves, Ames Farm single source honeys, and other specialty items grace the shelves separating the cheese and meat counters.

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If you haven’t yet tasted super cute Olympic Provisions Meatman Elias Cairo’s charcuterie, well, I just feel awful for you. You should definitely buy a chub or two.

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In the back of the store, you’ll find an array of picnic and pantry fodder, like fancy crackers, organic dried persimmons, various nuts, olives in their pressed and unpressed states, vinegars, dried pasta, sardines, and chocolate. As you can see, there is but one Xocolatl de Davíd Raleigh bar. I left it for you. You’re welcome. You can also stock up on fondue pots and cheese boards.

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Below is a shot of the menu board, which clings to the wall behind the counter. Sandwiches, salads, and small plates are listed Noah’s Ark/Cat in the Hat-style–Sandwich One and Sandwich Two, Salad One and Salad Two, Cazuela One and Cazuela Two. We ordered Sandwich Number Two because it had pickles, and because we like the word stinky. In case you’re wondering what exactly a cazuela is–I was–it’s a burnt orange-colored clay dish popular in Spain, which is what the menu’s two warm dishes are served in.

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We left Cheese Bar weighed down with honey, cheese and crackers, a stinky-good sandwich and a muscovado caramel-layered Zzang bar, which upon further examination was revealed to possess nearly 50 grams of sugar beneath its dark-chocolate crust. This explains why I spent most of the afternoon passed out on the couch dreaming about drowning in seas of stinky cheese. What the fudge, indeed.
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