Sheri LaVigne, the owner of Melrose Market's most excellent cheese emporium Calf and Kid, caused quite a Twitter buzz recently when she announced her new project.
LaVigne wants to open a bar. Not a wine bar, a house of craft cocktails, or even a whiskey bar with its own house charcuterie program. Four years ago LaVigne looked around and realized Seattle was surprisingly light on cheese shops; now she wants to address the woeful absence of cheese bars in this town.
And so she's planning Culture Club, a bar dedicated to cheese (though hopefully there will be a little Boy George on the sound system). Right now she's looking at a space on NW Market Street, but however that shakes out, she is committed to opening it in Ballard.
LaVigne's envisioning people stopping in for flights: three cheeses paired with three red wines, or three white wines, or even beers (I have made liberal use of LaVigne's beer and cheese pairing skills, both for professional purposes and birthday party planning). She fields a lot of pairing questions at the store, but says that telling someone that a good washed rind goes well with a single-malt scotch isn't quite the same as actually demonstrating the magic: "When you have a perfect pairing of an alcoholic element and cheese, it can be life changing."
Culture Club will also serve cheesecentric dishes, from the obvious (grilled cheese, mac and cheese) to less-common creations like Swiss raclette or frico, a sort of lacy Italian pancake of shredded potato, onions, and cheese heated in a skillet until it's crisp.
LaVigne says her bar will be decidedly unsnooty—more of a cheese tavern, really. It will also provide a fixed space for her cheese classes. Right now LaVigne does the occasional cheese 101, and it usually fills up in about 0.3 seconds. She floated some ideas for other classes, like a vertical tasting of gruyere. Please, universe, make this happen.
What you won't find at Culture Club: a major retail component. This is a straight-up bar, says LaVigne. "I really don't want to go in that direction, though I am thinking of another Calf and Kid, maybe in two years."