French Café Meets Retail at Primeaux

By Jan Walsh, Photography by Beau Gustafson

 Primeaux Cheese and Vino is more than a café. It is also a cheese, wine, and gift shop. Here, you can taste and shop for cheese and wine, purchase gifts for your foodie friends, and have lunch or dinner made with local products and European finds.


The Place:

Primeaux is located on the upper level of The Summit. Outside, café tables with red umbrellas invite us toward the towering golden yellow exterior. Inside, we find striking contrasts of white tablecloths, walls, and gleaming white tiles with black chairs, wine racks, and chalkboards displaying free wine tasting info, wine flights, and lunch specials. To the right is the wine bar, and to the left are the retail wine racks and accessories; in back is the dessert and cheese counter. The center of all this is dotted with tables for four.


IMG_9092-EditThe People: 

Hal Craig serves as general manager. Dennis Jackson is head chef. Vera Stein is assistant manager. Our server, Daniel Lewis, is very knowledgeable about the food and wine, and he provides pleasant, unobtrusive service. Christy Roach is the cheese monger and is also available to educate or answer questions. The restaurant is owned by the same group—Fern Street Enterprises and a group of out-of-state investors—that owns Dixie Fish Company.


The Wine & Cheese

A selection of 18 wines is available by the taste or by the glass. For those who want a bottle, you may buy from the retail collection and pay a corkage fee. Artisanal cheese plates are served in three sizes, with three, five, or seven cheeses. There is also a cheese fondue for two.


Favorite Fare:

Today is Jan. 1, 2014, so we opt for glasses of J. Wine Company Cuvee 20 to toast the New Year while we look over the menus. For lunch, Primeaux offers both a lunch menu and the regular menu. The Croque Monsieur/Madame and Farm Fresh Egg Sandwich tempt and will be tried on our next visit.

IMG_9106-EditFor today’s lunch, we order the Bologna and Cheese Sandwich, Mt. Laurel Farms Seasonal Salad, and Mac and Cheese from the regular menu. The Mac and Cheese is large enough for sharing and arrives piping hot. Cavatappi pasta served al dente melds with a combination of artisanal cheeses and is topped with garlic breadcrumbs and buttermilk whipped cream.

For the Bologna and Cheese Sandwich, brioche is filled with layers of uncured Mortadella and Pecorino Toscano, topped off with tasty thyme-infused mustard. It is grilled Panini-style and is served with fresh, seasonal greens in balsamic vinaigrette.

The entrée salad comes on a rectangular plate with one half filled with Mt. Laurel freshly harvested greens tossed in balsamic vinaigrette and topped with pulled artisan bread crumbs and Garrotxa aged goat cheese. The other half of the plate is bursting with marinated veggies–okra, green beans, red onions, artichokes, and red pepper–displayed in an artful arrangement. If you like crunchy and tart, this dish is for you.

For dessert, we enjoy a marvelous Belle Chevre Cheesecake. The thick slice is rich, creamy, and made from Alabama’s own Belle Chevre award-winning goat cheese and was topped with a luscious caramel sauce.

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