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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