Dinner-party conversations usually end in a hangover. But sometimes you wake up owning a cheese shop. That’s what happened to Tom Petty, Noemie Lacoste and Alex Whyte. “We came up with it over three bottles of red,” recalls Petty as he walks us through his new Brunswick Street bar, Shifty Chèvre.
Petty, an architect and builder, wanted to replicate that homey dinner-party atmosphere in Shifty’s fit-out. He used leftovers from previous construction jobs, installing a pre-loved front door here and a reclaimed panel there. The loo features an elaborate indoor fernery. “I wanted to do the fit-out in such a way that it was rustic but not rough. That’s the builder and the architect in me, I guess,” he explains. “It’s an opportunity to be your own client. That was the fun bit.”
As a French native, the cheese itself is naturally Lacoste’s domain. While the focus is firmly on French fromage, Australian and other international cheeses get a look in, too. “I’m doing a selection that’s going to change regularly according to the season,” she says.
At present, Lacoste is featuring a white-mould goat’s cheese called Chevre D’Argental, which is as creamy as a camembert while more fragrantly goaty (that’s a good thing). Come winter, Shifty will offer baked camembert with honey, fondue parties and raclette – a kind of Korean-style barbecue, except with cheese and spuds.
The summer menu is cheese plates served alongside saucisson sec (a delicious soft salami); open baguettes with parma ham and Grana Padano; and salads with Blue Orchid cheese, pear and walnuts. You can also swing by for a coffee and cheesy breakfast.
While the liquor license is still in the works, the team promises it will be offering French wine matches – and the occasional whiskey or sake tasting. They are also hoping to open up the back courtyard in February for the tail end of summer.