Cheese is focus at Lakeview's Bar Pastoral

January 5, 2013 8:29:06 PM PST
You wouldn't normally expect to see braised and marinated celery, covered by oily Spanish anchovies and a few shavings of a Sardinian cheese at a bar, but this isn't just any bar. It's Bar Pastoral, a Lakeview newcomer right next door to its better-known older sibling.

"Sort of the sit-down extension of Pastoral Artisan Cheese, Bread & Wine, which is the retail business we've had for eight years, and it's an opportunity for us to sort of show people how we would serve the types of products we serve in our store," said co-owner Greg O'Neill.

Cheese boards are a given. You can choose from among dozens of options.. All paired with the appropriate fruits, nuts, olives and breads.

"Yes, we have beautiful presentations of cheese with housemade accompaniments and housemade charcuterie and all those things really nicely presented; but then we're also coming up with some really inventive dishes especially seasonally and locally-sourced," O'Neill said.

And that's where it gets interesting. Dishes are relatively small and light, with a few exceptions. All of them have cheese in some fashion. Consider the trio of English muffins.

"Got a housemade English muffin, with a locally-produced quark, made at one of the only urban creameries in the nation in Milwaukee, at Clock Shadow Creamery," he said.

In addition to the creamy quark, there's also a fruity marmalade, some smoky bacon and the tiniest bit of beet greens finishing them off. A fondue-like mornay sauce amplifies the richness on an otherwise ho-hum cauliflower dish.. Which also achieves richness through an eggy brioche base and a soft-cooked egg done "toad-in-the-hole" style.

"So it's a nice go-with dish, or you could have it as a vegetarian main dish," O'Neill said.

Now if you just can't wait until 5 o'clock to get your cheese fix, you're in luck: on the weekends only, Bar Pastoral opens a bit earlier, at 3 o'clock, because apparently, people in the neighborhood just can't get enough cheese.

The store shares an opening on the side with the cheese shop, so you can pick up just about anything to go, including wine.

Bar Pastoral
2947 N. Broadway
(773) 472-4781
(they do not take reservations)

Pastoral Artisan Cheese & Bread shops:
2945 N. Broadway
(773) 472-4781

53 E. Lake
(312) 658-1250

Chicago French Market
131 N. Clinton St
(312) 454-2200