Eat and drink at once at the new Culture Club Cheese Bar with the $5 pairing, “The Hot Mess!”
There’s plenty of Old-World wine-and-cheese pairings at Capitol Hill’s new 49-seat Culture Club Cheese Bar. But the most interesting may be its pint of Rainier, the rim dipped in a warm cheddar spread and then rolled in pretzels.
It looks like a margarita-inspired concoction from some sports bar in Wisconsin, made for the couch potato who finds dunking pretzels in cheese with one hand and hoisting beer to lips with the other to be taxing.
The $5 pairing is called “The Hot Mess!” And the concept is “you eat and drink simultaneously,” our server explained.
Take a lick of the cheese along with the pretzel, and — you don’t have to move your mouth from the pint — wash down that sharp, salty taste with the cold lager.
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A bit gimmicky and lowbrow for a fromage bar, maybe. But it’s all good fun during happy hour.
Culture Club Cheese Bar is Sheri LaVigne’s follow-up to her excellent cheese shop The Calf & Kid in Melrose Market. The new bar resides in less fancy digs on this quiet, northern stretch of barhopping 12th Avenue.
It’s a hard, industrial space with a concrete floor and concrete pillars and big windows latticed by even more concrete. It looks like another one of those anonymous spaces you see on the ground floor of new buildings throughout the city. Only this spot is fragrant with melted cheese.
The modest menu features twists on cheesy comfort food. There’s the happy-hour fondue featuring a rotating lineup of cheeses. On a recent visit, that fondue featured a taleggio cheese that lacked the sharpness and funkiness of the real deal. (Swiss purists would gasp.)
Her cheese bar isn’t bad. It’s just not the Willy Wonka-esque or overindulgent experience you might expect. Cheese sometimes plays a complementary role. The misnomer grilled cheese featured Papillon Roquefort blue with roast beef and caramelized onions — a fine, decadent sandwich, but not the gooey, buttery bite you would expect from a cheese bar.
Culture Club Cheese Bar, 1806 12th Ave., Seattle, offers happy hour 4-6 p.m. on Wednesday through Friday and 2-6 p.m. on weekends with bar bites ($2-$10) and $1 off on beer, cider and wine. Closed Monday and Tuesday (206-556-4033 and on Facebook.)