Au Petit Chavignol — CLOSED
Two of my favourite things in life are wine and cheese – in that order. I can literally spend hours lost at the cheese counter at Whole Foods, sampling their newest products and deciding what to buy. One of the best places in Vancouver to indulge in both exotic cheese and delicious red wine is Au Petit Chavignol. Located on a largely abandoned strip of East Hastings populated mostly by boarded-up storefronts and industrial supply stores, this warm, inviting space, and its sister-store/supplier Les Amis de Fromage, comprise what can only be described as a bonafide mecca for cheese enthusiasts. Au Petit Chavignol is always warm and smells quite pungently of cheese – there is no mistaking what is on the menu here. Although they do offer a full bistro-style menu that ranges from salads to burgers, cheese is featured prominently in every dish, and when your salad arrives you may be hard-pressed to see any lettuce beneath a mountain of cheese. My spinach salad was accompanied by three deep fried balls of chevre that were clearly the highlight of the dish, and I am already clamouring to go back to experience this delicacy again.
The cheese selections are extensive, change frequently, and include a number of choices that cannot be found anywhere else in Vancouver. If your knowledge of cheese does not extend beyond the basics of cheddar, Swiss and mozzarella, the staff are well-informed and more than happy to make recommendations based on your preferences. If you are with a group, I highly recommend ordering one of the tasting platters—a house curated selection of cheese and charcuterie, many of which are not available on the menu—to share. The pommes frites are also incredible if you’re in the mood to indulge. The wine list, while not large, includes an intriguing assortment of old and new world varieties beyond the standard fare that you find at most restaurants. I’ve always been able to discover a new, usually French, gem on my visits. (SR)