Introducing: Cyril's at Clay Pigeon Winery

A new urban winery and bistro curates an artisan cheese selection as diverse as its bottle list.

By Benjamin Tepler May 1, 2013

One of the newest members of Portland’s exploding collection of “urban wineries” is Cyril’s at Clay Pigeon Winery, a culinary incubator and cheese heaven on the corner of SE Oak Street and Sandy Boulevard. With a short wine list, a room full of fermenting barrels in the back, a case of curated cheeses normally hard to find in Portland, and a simple lineup of flavorful comfort snacks, Cyril’s is casually stretching the form of a wine bar.  

Take a seat at the white marble bar supported by repurposed wine-barrel staves, and rest easy in the smart and friendly hands of wine nerd Michael Claypool. Claypool offers 15 glasses, including local favorites like Jan-Marc and Fausse Piste, and a handful of even smaller producers, all for about $10 a glass. Advanced drinkers can fill ceramic growlers from Portland Growler Company with either draft beer or pinot noir. At the adjacent display case, cheese monger Sasha Davies rolls out a black slate of cheeses from a tiny selection of hard-to-find specimens ranging from Ardrahan (a buttery, honey-hued cow’s milk variety) to Ossau Vielle (a nutty sheep’s milk cheese aged in the Pyrenees). Davies takes it one step further with a “community-supported cheese club,” in which members can pitch in via Kickstarter for Cyril’s to import a wheel of rare cheese, and then retrieve their wedge at a monthly pick-party. 

815 SE Oak St

Small plates are arranged in the open kitchen under Cyril’s chef de cuisine, Laura Birshan, with help from Davies. Between the two of them, a seasonal, vegetable-driven list of wine-friendly bites rounds out a battery of local charcuterie. Crispy brussels sprouts come bubbling in a ramekin of cream and funky Stilton cheese with a few slabs of bread for dipping, while something called “The Beast,” a heavy wedge of leek and squash bread pudding, is smothered in pungent gruyère.

Cyril’s is many things: a wine bar, a gourmet retail space, and a comfort-driven bistro. But above all, it’s a place to leave behind your wine insecurities and inspire a thirst for new flavors.

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