BELLINGHAM - Annalou Vincent and Travis Surmi are creating some delightful nibbles and meals in their small space inside the Whatcom Museum's Lightcatcher building.
The simplicity of this eatery's name - Cheese Meat(s) Beer - provide no hint of the sophistication that these restaurateurs are providing. This is a great option for a tasty, out-of-the-ordinary snack, but meal-size dishes also are available.
The craft beer selections here are available in 4-ounce servings that enable customers to enjoy a bit of brew over lunch without feeling overly bibulous.
Several decades ago, when I did my newspaper work along the Mexican border, the multiple-beer lunch was not merely acceptable - it was almost mandatory. But those days are gone, and that is probably a good thing.
We started with the $12 cheese meats beer plate that included an excellent salami and a Vermont camembert-style cheese with local pickles and Bread Farm baguette, plus a 4-ounce serving of Monk's Uncle ale from Pike Brewing of Seattle. This makes a sensible-sized meal for one person or a decent shared nibble for two, and you can buy a second 4-ounce beer cup, or larger sizes if you prefer. You can also get the plate sans beer for $10, and there is a daily selection of wines by the glass.
We also tried the North African sausage, $8. Despite the name, this lamb sausage is house-made, not flown in from Libya. It had a bracing hot chili-and-cumin seasoning that went well with my second 4-ounce cup of beer. This dish is appetizer-sized, and comes with harissa, a red chili dipping sauce.
For one of our main courses, we chose the burger, $9, which comes with a lovely pile of baby greens and apple vinaigrette. The burger is made with Long Valley Ranch beef, house-made pickles and, for one more dollar, a slice of Beecher's Flagship white cheddar. Shell out that buck and get the cheese, which had just the amount of sharpness I like in my cheddar.
Also worth mention is the burger's chewy pretzel-style bun, which has enough substance to maintain structural integrity to the last bite. I hate it when burgers are served on buns that start to self-destruct at the halfway point.
Intending no disrespect to the already-nicely-seasoned burger, I dabbed on a bit of leftover harissa, and the experiment was a success.
Our other meal plate was a fork-tender milk-braised pork shoulder, $10, with corn bread terrine and spicy rhubarb jam. The jam was fiery rather than merely spicy, which was fine with us. The cornbread was crunchy and prepared without much sugar.
As the prices should indicate, the portions here are on the modest side, but side dishes and desserts are available for those who want to spend and eat more excessively. We piled on a chocolate chip scone, $2, for dessert, because the smell of them in the oven was more than we could resist.
CHEESE MEAT(S) BEER
Address: 250 Flora St., in the Whatcom Museum (museum admission not required).
Hours: Noon to 8 p.m. Wednesday through Friday; Saturday and Sunday all-day brunch, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Price range: $4 to $12.
Reach JOHN STARK email@example.com or call 715-2274.