Cheese and beer (or wine or cider) is a beautiful thing, which is why Steve Jones has made it his life's mission to bring perfectly paired cheese and libations to the masses. First he gave us Cheese Bar on SE Belmont in 2010, and on Monday he's planning to open the doors to Chizu, his 18-seat downtown jewel box, where cheese plates will get the sushi bar treatment. Not only that, less than two weeks later he'll open his mini Cheese Bar spinoff, Cheese Annex, in The Commons Brewery when it opens at the end of the month.
At Chizu, which is nestled in a tiny 450-square-foot storefront next to Multnomah Whiskey Library, you'll find 30 super-special cheeses lined up behind glass along the 11-seat bar. You can select your heart's desire, along with any meaty, pickle-y, carb-y accompaniments, from a sushi-style score card. Or order omakase and let the experts surprise you. The space is too small for taps, but Jones is a pairing expert and will have a tight selection of carefully selected beer, wine, cider, and sake by the bottle and glass.
As for his partnership with The Commons, Jones says they expect to open by the end of the month. The "business within a business" sports a 175-square foot kitchen with a window at which customers can place their order from a pared down version of the Cheese Bar menu: grilled cheese sandwich, tomato soup, seasonal salad, and fondue, plus a variety of themed cheese and/or meat boards all created with The Commons' 12 taps of mostly Belgian-style farmhouse beers in mind. "One very cool thing is we're going to work with a bread made by Little T Baker that uses the same yeast and malt bill that The Commons uses for its beers," says Jones.
Chizu (opening March 15): 1126 SW Alder St., Portland. Hours will be Sunday through Wednesday 3 p.m. to 10 p.m., Thursday through Saturday 3 p.m. to 11 p.m.
Cheese Annex at The Commons Brewery (opening by the end of March), SE 7th and and SE Belmont.