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Patrons are encouraged to stop in at Chez Flo for a pre-work coffee and croissant.
Patrons are encouraged to stop in at Chez Flo for a pre-work coffee and croissant. Charlotte Pert

Dishing up cheese, charcuterie and charm at Chez Flo

Lovers of wine and cheese have a new place to indulge their guilty pleasures. At Chez Flo, a new brasserie on Bassac Lane, owner Flo Montmeat serves up charcuterie platters along with a big slice of personality. “If Chez Flo is not here, it is not Chez Flo,” said the gregarious Lyon native on a recent afternoon.

The place is full of personality. The black and white photos that adorn the walls are from Montmeat’s own albums – snapshots of family life in pre-1950 France. “I like this one because he looks very arrogant,” he said with a laugh, pointing to a picture of his grandfather walking with his grandmother. “Maybe my grandfather looks like Humphrey Bogart.”

Montmeat intends his eatery to be the kind of place people stop for a quick coffee in the morning before work or wine and cheese in the evening before dinner. “You come for a coffee and croissant for 20 minutes, then leave for the office,” he said.

He plans to expand the menu in the New Year but, for now, food is limited to a cheese plate and a platter of charcuterie meat cuts (both $8 for small, $15 for large). The cheese options include brie, goat cheese and Tomme de Savoie, while the meats include dried ham, jambon de Paris and coppa.

Beer and wine is cheap, with a Cambodia draft costing $1.50 and a glass of wine about $4. One of the bar’s signature cocktails is the Medina ($4), a herbal vodka-based drink with ground cinnamon and orange blossom water made from the distillation of fresh bitter orange flowers. Order a “Flojito”, and the man himself will cut some fresh mint from the leaves intermingled with ferns hanging from the walls.

As the newest addition to the ever-growing nightlife scene on Street 308, Montmeat says his bar complements the nearby Italian and Chinese restaurants, as well as its more upmarket neighbours in Bassac Lane.

He cites the success of nearby Red Bar as evidence that the street could use another inexpensive drinking hole. “The area is very nice because you can attract people coming before dinner for a drink, or after dinner for a drink,” he said.

Montmeat added that he wants to take care to preserve his personality in the bar’s operations – drinkers are encouraged to make small talk with Montmeat as he serves at the bar. There’s no danger of his being a silent owner. “I just want to make a bar and stay in my bar – I don’t want to have a bar with staff and stay at home.”

Chez Flo, #37 Street 308

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