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Capitol Hill food+drink | Culture Club Cheese Bar brings ‘perfect pairings’ to 12th Ave

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Cheese and Local Beer Flight

“It’s not a wine bar. It’s a cheese bar.”

Capitol Hill’s cheese monger has opened her Capitol Hill cheese bar.

Cheese, Sheri Lavigne says, is one of life’s “affordable luxuries.” Her new Culture Club Cheese Bar, opened in a 12th Ave microhousing development neighboring neighborhood microbrewery Outer Planet, is dedicated to showcasing that luxury in flights paired with northwest beers and cheese-friendly wines.

“Here’s exactly what it tastes like when you have a perfect pairing,” Lavigne says, ready to present yet another set of creamy, rich, flavors with just the right amount of cheesy funk or tang or both.

Five and a half years after she opened the Calf and Kid cheese counter inside Melrose Market, Lavigne has created a new venue where she can stretch out the relationship with customers and help take pressed curds to a whole new level but without requiring everyone to be a connoisseur.

“This is just as chill as Calf and Kid,” Lavigne said. “It’s not a wine bar. It’s a cheese bar.”

IMG_5799Culture Club, pun — of course — intended, features trios of cheeses paired with matching beers, wines, or ciders. Lavigne said the matching game begins with the beverages and from there she lets her years of cheese knowledge run wild.

For now, Lavigne is keeping things simple in the kitchen but she hopes to continue to expand offerings in the new year and feature surprises like raclette nachos. The menu also includes a grilled cheese sandwich, naturally, and a new contender for the best mac and cheese in the city.

“You can get mac and cheese all over the place. But we’re using the $30 a pound cheddar,” Lavigne said. “I think you can taste the difference.”

The space was designed to serve as both a bar and a classroom of cheese. On Wednesdays through Sundays, the cheese bar is open with an all-ages section up front. Tuesdays are planned to be dedicated events with cheesemakers — and classes presenting “a crash course” in “cheese knowledge. “Where does Camembert come from, you always end with your blue…” — Professor Lavigne explains.

Lavigne opened Calf and Kid in 2010 as he grew her reputation in cheese-loving circles with pop-ups and events. Her Melrose cheese counter got a big boost when celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain paid a visit. She launched a crowdfunding campaign to help pay for the buildout of Culture Club in a project originally planned for Ballard. Instead, Culture Club landed next door to 12th Ave nanobrewery Outer Planet, which opened in February with pints of Capitol Hill-brewed beer.

Now, Lavigne sees the 12th Ave opportunity as the right match with Calf and Kid.

“It should be here,” Lavigne said. “It’s the perfect extension of the shop.”

“It’s going to be great to watch this area really develop some more with restaurants and retail.”

And, of course, Lavigne will also have the perfect seat to watch cheese lovers express their cheesy enthusiasm for perfect pairings and new, complex flavors.

“I’m so happy about how many people will come in and go straight for the funk,” she said.

Culture Club is open Wednesdays through Sundays, 4 PM to 10 PM. You can learn more on the Culture Club Facebook page.

"Fried fish skin, ikura, shaved radishes, crème fraîche," at Bar Melusine (Image: Sea Creatures)

“Fried fish skin, ikura, shaved radishes, crème fraîche,” at Bar Melusine (Image: Sea Creatures)

Capitol Hill food+drink notes

  • Renee Erickson’s fleet of E Union projects on the backside of Pike/Pine has arrived. Bateau and Bar Melusine are open. General Porpoise Coffee and Doughnuts is coming soon. CHS will be visiting… soon.
  • Wylie Bush writes to make sure we saw that he’s bringing dinner service at Cafe Barjot to a close later this month:
    It has been one year since we started dinner service at Cafe Barjot. We’ve continuously received wonderful reviews from you and the media, but even with the fine words about what is coming out of our little kitchen we’ve struggled to build enough steady clientele to stay open in the evening.
    The Bellevue Ave cafe Bush took over in 2014 will now turn its attention to brunch:
    After November 14th we will have new hours that let us focus on our other menu: BRUNCH! Starting Monday the 16th Barjot will be open Monday – Friday from 7am – 2pm, Saturday and Sunday from 8am – 2pm. The kitchen will be open every day of the week 8am – 2pm. That’s right, the kitchen will be making brunch EVERY SINGLE DAY!
  • /r/Seattle reportsJohn John’s Game Room Has Reopened!
  • Ballet has a familiar new owner.
  • Molly Moon’s is holding a “Seven Year Sale” of SWAG and branded merch at its headquarters this weekend “to clear out the old and make way for the new” on E Pine.
  • New in Pike/PineGreat Hall of the People
  • “Of all the places in this town to get a cup of coffee, Analog just might be the best. Stop by any given day and you’ll see some of Seattle’s best artists and musicians on either side of the counter. We interviewed Danny and Tim about how they ending up opening the coolest café around.”

 

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22 Comments
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Heza
Heza
5 years ago

YESSSSSSSSSS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

rageofage
rageofage
5 years ago

On the menu:

Gentrified gouda
Fancy feta
Upscale ubriaco
Yuppie yarra
Millenial maffra
Trendy takelma
Swanky stilton
Voguish vacherin
Hipster harbison
Popular paesanella
Chic caciobarricato

Adam
Adam
5 years ago
Reply to  rageofage

Well done lol

zeebleoop
zeebleoop
5 years ago
Reply to  rageofage

there are a few options for you to get kraft singles if those are more your speed. nobody’s forcing you to buy cheese from this place, comrade.

Max
Max
5 years ago
Reply to  zeebleoop

But apparently someone is forcing you to have zero sense of humor/satire.

zeebleoop
zeebleoop
5 years ago
Reply to  Max

ah, but i do have a sense of humor. for funny things.

rageofage
rageofage
5 years ago
Reply to  zeebleoop

This IS funny :-)

Max
Max
5 years ago
Reply to  zeebleoop

You can’t have it both ways. Either you recognized it as satire and simply didn’t find it funny (therefore calling the commenter “comrade” making no sense as it implies you took the comment seriously. Or you did in fact take it seriously and replied with a Seattle-times style rebuttal. You can’t have recognized it as satire and now say you just didn’t find it funny, so then you pivoted to a harsh response to an obvious joke.

zeebleoop
zeebleoop
5 years ago
Reply to  zeebleoop

i recognized it as, in my personal opinion, stupid. not funny. not satire. but stupid. don’t try to rationalize my comment to me. you don’t even know me.

Max
Max
5 years ago
Reply to  rageofage

and Fromage de la Whiz

liz
liz
5 years ago

The irony of you calling her shop gentrification when she’s lived on the hill for years and years is hilarious.

M.C.Barrett
M.C.Barrett
5 years ago
Reply to  liz

It’d be nice if more of the hill’s businesses were local resources rather than luxury-consumption destinations.

Jim98122x
Jim98122x
5 years ago
Reply to  M.C.Barrett

The cognitive dissonance in my mind caused by the proliferation of ever-more expensive businesses on the Hill along with people voting in an endless succession of property tax increases (which boost rents) at the same time everyone screams for rent control is going to make my head explode. I’m so confused.

Jim98122x
Jim98122x
5 years ago
Reply to  jseattle

No. Should I?

Max
Max
5 years ago
Reply to  jseattle

Ha. Win. Yeah, if everyone were screaming for rent control, that everyone would include all the powers that be and we’d have it.

RWK
RWK
5 years ago
Reply to  jseattle

RE: # 2)

Yes, property taxes are increasing partly because home values are increasing, but the frequent approval of new levies is also a factor….latest example is the transportation initiative (Prop 1), which assesses a property tax which is DOUBLE the expiring levy. I think the only people who aren’t bothered by this are renters, where it’s not clear how much increasing property taxes contribute to increased rents (which are caused by many other factors). For a homeowner, we know an exact figure which we must pay, and it is increasing with all the new levies being approved.

Max
Max
5 years ago
Reply to  Jim98122x

Be grateful you have a home to pay taxes on.

RWK
RWK
5 years ago
Reply to  Max

I am, actually…..bought my little home in 1980, when things were much more affordable.

Karl
Karl
5 years ago

Loving the cold concrete Marxist brutalism decor. Perfect for Seattle.

Cheesland
5 years ago

Congratulations on your opening! Looks like a lot of fun to learn about the pairings and the decor looks wonderful. Of course always entertaining to eat delicious cheese. We are of course a fan. We hope you bring some Ewephoria Aged, or maybe Dutch Girl Aged Goat to your menu. Good luck with it all.

rageofage
rageofage
5 years ago

Let them eat cheese.