Vancouver Drinks: Au Petit Chavignol

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It has taken me far too long to visit this wine/cheese bar brought to Vancouver by the great cheese store Les Amis du Fromage. The main reason for this is its poor location, way out in the boonies on east Hastings many blocks past Main. With no other draw in the neighbourhood, it makes me wonder if the location planning was not thought through as well as it should have been.

This is a shame given how great I think this place is. Not only does it have the best (and most frequently rotating) cheese selections in the City (yes, better than Salt), it also has an excellent and eclectic wine list including the likes of Tissot’s Macvin (by the glass) and Vin Jaune and a good 30 or so bottle list of Riesling (which this summer are all 25% off a bottle). There are also some great hot food items, such as the delicious Croque Madam (the best I’ve had) and four types of mac and cheese. I chose to drink a nice bottle of dry german riesling for a mere $30 after discount, which knocked the socks of almost any wine priced at $30 in Vancouver restaurants. That is to say, it was real wine, drinking well, and going great with the food.

My only complaint (other than the location) is not something specific to Au Petit Chavignol: sherry prices. I am baffled at how restaurants and wine bars charge $7 for a two ounce glass of sherry and $10 for a 5 ounce glass of wine when the bottle of sherry costs far less than the bottle of wine. The entire purpose of most sherry is for excellent quality booze at an extremely low price. Why mark it up 3 times more than wine? This defeats the purpose and distorts what sherry is all about. This is a shame given how well sherry goes with food compared to many wines.

Despite this hiccup, Au Petite Chavignol is now amongst my favourite wine bars in the city. If only it were in a neighbourhood I actually frequented. As it is, I will be making the occasional trip out there to enjoy some stellar cheese and wine pairings, and perhaps one day indulge in some seriously ritzy mac and cheese.

Posted in: Vancouver


  1. Mr Winecouver
    August 4, 2010

    I’ve eaten there many a time, although you’re right about the cab ride there/back. Shame they’re not more central to the downtown core as they would give Salt a run for their money.

    Agreed on the German Rieslings for very reasonable prices. I love the Croque Madam as well. Please tell me you had the made-to-order chocolate cookies. Divine!

  2. Jake
    August 7, 2010

    I understand your frustrations and agree that sherry is overpriced in this city. Finos like Tio Pepe or Alvears should be available for $4 kind of thing and it would encourage more people to drink them.

    Something to keep in mind is that at many respectable restaurants, there is typically much more wastage associated with pouring sherry by the glass, which translates to higher markups. While I was managing 20 open bottles of sherry, it would take plenty of extra work keeping on top of what was open and making sure they were fit to serve. Anything that wasn’t would be dumped out.

  3. Shea
    August 10, 2010

    Thanks for the observations Jake. Two things. 1. Chavignol has something like 3-4 sherries per glass. 2. While I love the idea of having 20 sherries open by the glass, I think pairing the list down and offering better prices (while rotating the list frequently) could serve the same purpose as a 20 glass list and yet with lower prices. Thoughts?

  4. J Chaput
    August 29, 2010

    Thank you all for the kind comments. The location was chosen because both Allison and I live in Strathcona, the rents are affordable, and because it is an underserviced area. What I mean by underserviced is that there are plenty of residents, but places for them to spend their hard earned dollars is lacking. We believe we can have a long term, successful business in this neighborhood.

    Less than 1 month left of the summer of riesling to enjoy. The savings should hopefull cover your cab ride. Hope to see you back again.

  5. Shea
    August 29, 2010

    Fair enough – I only wish you were closer to where I work so I could visit more often! It’s a great place, keep it up and I hope you are very successful with the venture.

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