Dying on the Vine

There are issues amongst the yardlong list of vino and fromage

Personally, I'd like to see some change from month to month, and there are several wines written up by Wine Spectator in its 100 Best of 2003 list which I'd like to try before I blow my wad on a bottle, so why not have several of these by the glass? Also, where's the 2003 Beaujolais, which everyone agrees was so good? Cheuvront says he's planning to make Wednesday night the evening at which he presents wine and cheese pairings, but why not make specific pairing suggestions a regular part of the menu, rather than the few vague ones he has?

As for the cheeses themselves, flown in from Artisanal Cheeses in New York, Cheuvront offers samples of three for $13.50, which are served on a square, white plate along with nuts and dried fruit. Believe me, folks, I'm a fromage fetishist from way back, and Cheuvront does have some goodies -- from the funky Bleu de Basques to the buttery Epoisses and the slightly nutty Tourmalet. But what, no Italian Gorgonzola, British Stilton or German bierkase? And though the French are heavily represented curd-wise, why no heavenly Gourmandise for us to spread on our crackers? And where's my favorite French cheese of all, the double-cream Pave d'Affinois, which tastes like a smooth cheese pudding encased in rind?

A little exotica wouldn't hurt, either. I've heard tell of camel's cheese, made from the milk of dromedaries, and dang-it-all, if the senator can acquire some of that delicacy, I might change my tune. Basically, Ken, I want you to succeed, but any of us can walk into Trader Joe's and walk out with a bag of cheeses to rival most of what you're offering. When I go out and spend some of my boss's hard-earned dolo, I want to be surprised, enchanted, intrigued. Despite its faults, Postino, for instance, knows how to upend expectations, whether it's with their bruschetta or how it's served on cutting boards. Not that I mean for you to copy the competition, but that element of surprise is admirable.

No camel cheese, Kenny? Cheuvront (front) with chef Christopher Moore.
Jackie Mercandetti
No camel cheese, Kenny? Cheuvront (front) with chef Christopher Moore.

Location Info

Map

Cheuvront Wine & Cheese Cafe

1326 N. Central Ave.
Phoenix, AZ 85004

Category: Restaurant > Contemporary

Region: Central Phoenix

Details

Artisanal Cheese Plates: $13.50 for three cheeses Lamb roulade: $10
Pumpkin bread pudding: $7
Wines by the glass: $5.50 to $15

602-307-0022. Hours: Lunch and dinner, Monday through Wednesday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Thursday, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m. to midnight; closed Sunday.

1326 North Central

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I should make a point of saying that the service I've received from Cheuvront's staff has always been first-rate, and there are items on the menu that stand out: The lamb roulade nosh is exceptional, with port-drenched lamb wrapped around a fig filling; and as far as desserts go, I'd rank Cheuvront's warm pumpkin bread pudding with caramel sauce very highly, save I'd prefer it with some vanilla ice cream on top. As for their lack of an espresso machine, I found this troubling, to say the least.

My fervent desire is that Cheuvront's endures; that the senator maintain it as a genuine wine bar with atmosphere, entertainment and a cheese selection swell enough to satisfy the most jaded of fromage aficionados. He's not there yet, but he's trying. And in hopes that he makes much-needed changes, I'll lend him my qualified recommendation. After all, after dropping off my videos at Burton Barr, I'd like to have a place nearby where I can enjoy a glass of wine and a leisurely cutting of the cheese.

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