375 Brunswick St
Fitzroy, VIC 3065
Chris and I are pretty non-believing when it comes to Valentine’s Day, but in a very pacifist sort of way, with none of that IT’S A COMMERCIALISED HOLIDAY anger. However, we do take the opportunity to do something a little special together, maybe exchange cards or small tokens. Just like we do on many other days of the year, because that’s what real love is about, right?
Cheese is one of my favourite indulgences, but I find it hard to branch out from the supermarket fridge section, given how you can’t just casually waltz into a high-end restaurant and order nothing but a cheeseboard. That’s why I couldn’t believe my luck when Shifty Chèvre, a dedicated cheese (and soon to be wine) bar and cafe opened up in the heart of Fitzroy.
I love the way the name of the restaurant rolls around in my mouth, and every time I say it, it comes out in my poshest (and worst) French accent – I just couldn’t help it. Kudos to whoever fitted out Shifty Chèvre, because it is such a perfect mix of provincial, whimsy, and comfort. It was a lovely summer’s day outside, and with the sunshine spilling in through the front windows, it felt like I had wandered down to the village grocer for a bite to eat.
The rustic wooden shelves were filled with a gamut of cheese-related goods, from home-made preserves to cheese knives in various sizes. We even spotted canned duck confit and thimble-sized jars of sliced truffle, labelled entirely in French. Ooh la la!
People should be forbidden from asking if I want a coffee on days when I decided to go without, because next thing I knew, I was sipping on a Skinny Flat White ($3.5). I couldn’t berate myself all that much in the end though, because I thoroughly enjoyed this smooth, mellow, and chocolatey brew.
In true gentlemanly fashion, Chris delegates ordering completely to me on our dates, and in true nice-foodie-girlfriend fashion, I ordered something I knew would float his goat – the Open Baguette with Grana Padano and Ham, Roast Vegetable, and Pesto ($11.5). This was an absolutely class act. On the bed of sweet roasted summer vegetables was not your usual ham, but smooth, fatty slices of prosciutto with a rich, porky aroma. It was topped off with sharp gratings of cheese, and small dollops of coarsely ground pesto that burst with colour and flavour. The baguette itself was also – naturally – spot-on, with a soft and yeasty centre and just a little bit of crunch at the edges.
It was a fairly warm day and The Taswegian Salad ($11.5) was exactly what I had in mind. Once again, this dish was summery, vibrant, and filled with goodness. The medley of vegetables was crisp and fresh, with the finely diced carrot and red onion adding a refreshing crunch. There was more of that lusciously silky ham, and the diced Tasmanian Emmental was waxy and mild. Tossed in a light Dijon mustard dressing, this was the ultimate feel-good lunch.
With so much cheese brazenly on display, we couldn’t resist topping our meal off with a platter. We weren’t sure we could eat one of the $20 cheese platters by this point, but our waitress kindly offered to slice up some cheese and serve it up with some quince paste for us. Unfortunately we did have to pay for the crackers but the quince paste was free!
It was an ordeal, trying to decide which cheeses we wanted to try. The proviso is that we have to buy a minimum of 100g because anything smaller is too cumbersome to cut up, so we had to make sure that we really liked whichever cheese we chose. Luckily the staff were more than happy to shave off samples for us to taste-test, and we eventually settled on the Brie Marriote ($5.2/100g) for me, and the Tasmanian St Claire Emmental ($4.2/100g) for Chris.
I had a good deal of the Emmental in my salad, but when had on its own, I could really appreciate its fruity and mildly nutty aroma, and its wonderfully soft and slightly chewy texture. It’s pretty much a jack of all trades when it comes to cheese. As nice as the Emmental was though, I couldn’t stop eating the mild, creamy wedge of Brie. It was absolutely out of this world when combined with a smidge of quince paste, making for a dessert that rivals the best of cheesecakes.
I’m going to keep this simple: I love Shifty Chèvre and I can’t wait to come back.
Rating: 15/20 – sneaky stilton. alternatively: sweet dreams are made of cheese, who am i to diss a brie?
This rating reflects my personal experience at the time of visit.
On our way back to the tram, we stumbled across a craft market, and these adorable greeting cards were Chris (he’s a programmer) and I in a nutshell. Never have I found anything that expresses my sentiments so succinctly and accurately.
And being in Fitzroy, I just couldn’t resist taking a photo of the amazing (and in this case, perfectly timed) graffiti.