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Sona Creamery and Wine Bar, Owners Conan and Genevieve O'Sullivan - Eastern Market Metro - Closed


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I guess it figures if they have one they have the other.  I've been waiting for months for Sona, the new wine/cheese shop, to open right there around the corner on PA Ave.  They're going to have a creamery on site with a full cheese-making operation.  According to their twitter feed, it's now pushed back to next week.  Their is their website.

I guess this should become a new thread.  (There also should be one in restaurants, though it's mentioned in the openings thread.)

Today I stopped in at Sona, which is now open its regular hours, which I believe are 11AM to 10 or 11 PM.  I bought some of this cheese from New Hampshire since I thought it looked interesting.  The taste of it was a mild cheddar-ish flavor.  They have a lot of unpasteurized cheeses.  Everything seemed to be sourced externally, so I should have asked when they will start having cheese they make on premises.

It reminded me of very early Cheesetique, but there are a lot of $30/+ per pound cheeses, which seems gasp-worthy, even if they're great.  They do have tables and a counter for eating (and a chef), so they're way ahead of where Cheesetique was at the beginning.

They have two cheese cases.  The bottom shelf of the one facing you as you come in the door is all blue cheeses, including Roquefort and Stilton.

They also have charcuterie and things like marinated white anchovies.  It's located (can't remember if it's directly adjacent) near the Sapore olive oil store.  A good "gourmet" combination.  It will be quite a destination spot when the Italian gourmet store that's supposed to be going into the old Marvelous Market (still Silver Spork and still open) location around the corner opens

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I met a friend here Monday afternoon for some general catching up. We ordered a cheese board (cheesemonger's choice) and a couple of glasses of wine.

Sadly, the cheese menu we looked at does not match what is on the website so I can't give a detailed rundown. I do remember that the cheeses were a firm blue, a soft cow, and a triple cream brie. The board also had some dried fruits, preserves, and house made butter. Although I am a blue cheese lover, this one was my least favorite of the three as I much prefer my blue cheese to be of the crumbly and veiny variety. The second cheese (I think it is the Fromage de Meaux) was very good. And I do remember our third cheese: the cremeaux des cieteaux aux truffes. Yes, with truffles. And it was amazing. So amazing I went to the cheese counter and bought some to take home. There is a 10% discount on cheeses that are on the cheese menu/bar (as opposed to those that are just from the case).

I also had two glasses of wine, the Nero D'avola ($13) and the Saint Rioja Reserva ($10). I thought both wines were good. One of the co-owners/managers stopped by and let us know they are working hard to find wines from Washington State (apparently they are working with Schneiders on this and maybe on all their wines as well) so those may be some of the more interesting wines to sample. They are only pouring full glasses right now though I do hope they offer smaller pours in the future to encourage sampling and branching out.

Finally, our service was a little...non existent. I took us forever to get out drinks and the cheeseboard with no acknowledgement that we had been waiting even though both owners and our server walked by several times. The cheese board eventually came out by itself and we debated whether or not bread should have come out as well. Finally, realizing they wouldn't give us butter to eat by itself we asked our server to bring out the bread. This also took awhile as it seemed as people were not attuned to the fact that both of us were trying, desperately, to make eye contact with someone and the cheese was not being touched. The time between asking for the bread and receiving the bread was also longer than expected since our server had to ring in another table's order which also took some time as it seemed that she was still learning the system.

Overall, it was a good experience. Hopefully the service glitches were just due to it being newly opened. With Cowgirl Creamery closed, I'm really happy to have a new place in town with good cheese.

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Since my last visit, I have gone to Sona twice for lunch on Friday. The food is simple but really good quality. I have bibb lettuce salad (very solid) and the Bruno's Big Kid (basically a grilled cheese sandwich stuffed with mac and cheese). The sandwich was really good and a very filling and rich portion. I really enjoyed it. The highlight of both trips are the cheeseboard. The cheeses are really outstanding (highlights are the buttery and creamy Ardrahan, the above mentioned cheese with truffles, and the fourmet d'ambert cheese). Served with very good different dried fruits, jams, and candied nuts, I have not had a cheeseboard I did not love. Also, the very good butter is now served with a smattering of flavorless pop rocks on top which add a great punch when you eat them. The wines are also interesting and enjoyable. It's hard to pair red wine with cheese (at least for me) but I have enjoyed the Andrew Rich Tabula Rasa Red on one visit. My most recent visit I had a very generous pour of a pinot gris which I thought was great. I sat at the counter the past two times and service was knowledgeable and friendly, especially the person at the cheese counter.

I am looking forward to future visits (especially when I don't go during a Lenten Friday) and more cheese. Always more cheese.

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Sona launched its brunch service this weekend, which happens to be when Bob and I paid them our first visit. The tables were only spottily occupied at 1:00 PM today, so the service was quick and friendly (if slightly formal at points, which I suppose beats over-friendliness). Bob's French toast ($10) might have seemed rather ordinary, with a pair of eggy baguette pieces coupled with fresh strawberries and syrup, but it was made exceptional by a tangy goat cheese spread that cut the sweetness nicely. My poutine ($12) brought together otherwise unexceptional French fries with excellent cheese curds, a nice lamb gravy and a fried egg. Rich, but damned tasty. The portions weren't huge for the cost, but not overly filling either, which was nice. The rest of the menu featured shirred eggs, pork belly, a veggie frittata, and a few of their regular lunch sandwiches. The bloody marys (which we didn't have) struck me as a bit pricey at $11, they looked interesting; the wines by the glass are also not inexpensive. Still, this seems like of those under-the-radar places on the Hill (like Tash, Pound, Zest, etc.) that are doing some pleasant cooking that may not get a lot of buzz but make for respectable dining. Worth checking out.

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I've been meaning to try lunch at Sona for awhile, and Restaurant Week seemed as good a time as any, since their lunch menu included most of their regular offerings with a few different items. Depending on what one ordered, one would basically get a free dessert, or a meal about 1/3 less than what would pay for just two courses, so not too bad a deal. Bob had the two-cheese plate for his starter (since the 3-cheese plate is $18, this was about a $12 value), which was a very attractive slate tray with four sizeable piece of cheese (St. George--a parmesan-like hard cheese, and the tangy Casatica de Bufala), a few blueberries, housemade mango chutney and blueberry-thyme jam, and candied walnuts, along with a more-substantial-than-most bread basket--very nice. My gazpacho was lovely also, with a small amount of whey sorbet; I assume the advertised "grains of paradise" were pureed with the rest. We both opted for burgers--Bob had lamb with Ossau-Iraty cheese, arugula puree, and black olive aioli, while I went for beef, with Der Scharfe Maxx and aioli. Both were modest-sized but juicy and creative--a good lunch entree. For dessert, we both went for the lemon curd with meringue, goat cheese "snow," a crunchy topping with some unidentified herb, and blueberries--sort of a deconstructed lemon meringue pie. Decent. There were very few customers, but the meal itself suggested again that this is an underrated place that deserves more of an audience: it's modest but offering some intriguing twists on standard fare at a reasonable price, RW or not.

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My wife has been with her book group friends a couple of times now (if you, as in 'Big Night' like the starch witha the starch, may enjoy their grilled mac and cheese sandwich), and I finally get to meet her there for dinner tonight. Looking forward to it!

 

OK - pretty good. Really good cheeses. Sat outside but went in to peek at the cheese after dinner. Nice little space. Good service.

Pimento Cheese spread was good. Nice and creamy.

Tomato, watermelon peach salad sounded good in theory but this could have been better. The skins on all of the tomatoes were pretty tough. Not enough cheese. Could use more salt. It was OK.

The crispy chicken thigh was quite good - prepared really well and almost ruined by the overpowering bleu cheese they dolloped on top - way too over powering so scooped it off it was vastly improved.

The grilled classic cheese sandwich was really good. Served with a little side salad. I'd totally order any variation of this again. It was great.

The cheese board was quite fine. The server knew the cheeses well and they sprinkled the board with lots of goodies to experiement with. You really cannot go wrong ordering this.

I'll be back but will not rush back. They did mention they have some charcuterie available to soup up the cheese plates, which we did not do, but that I would do next time. They only had two possibles, which I'd like to see expanded. Parking was a snap (we were there from 6 to maybe 8 or so). I parked maybe 40 feet from the place.

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I had an al fresco brunch here yesterday, and while pleasant, it could have, and should have, been better.

We started off with an Elemint of Summer ($12), a pleasant cocktail with Obelisco Riesling, Gvori Vodka, Pomegranate Juice, Lime, Simple Syrup, and Mint; and a Virgin Mary ($7), an undrinkable concoction that was too thick, ridden with salty, pungent spices, and sat only half-finished at the end of the meal.

For the meal, we ordered the Raclette Service for Two ($26), and received a tray containing strips of three varieties of melting cheese, cornichons, and some very good homemade parsnip mustard; a little basket of baguette slices, and an unfortunately cheap Boska Party Raclette device, heated by three tea candles, each being about an inch too short, thus not heating the base of the machine - it literally took fifteen minutes for each round of cheese to melt, and while amusing, it did little to curb our growing hunger. Once the cheeses melted, they were quite good, but we ended up having a total of 8 small bagette slices (which works out to a sushi-like $3.25 per slice).

We ended our meal with a cup of high-quality black tea (I think it was Stash) which was not on the bill, and we left a respectable tip to our amiable server to compensate.

Of note: only one cheese made at Sona was available yesterday: a goat cheese which we never did get to try.

My guess is that this Boska raclette device can work, but only if the candles are of a certain height; as served, this should not be offered as an option.

However, Sona remains in Italic in the Dining Guide because the cheese it served was very good.

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MichaelBDC and I have been craving cheese more than usual, so we grabbed brunch at Sona to satisfy our cravings. MichaelBDC ordered the classic grilled cheese which was served with a small side salad. The sandwich was filled with three gooey cheese and hit the spot for MichaelBDC. The bread was very good and the bread to cheese ratio was perfect. The salad was nice and refreshing but nothing special. We both hope that it can be replaced with a cup of soup in colder months. I had the breakfast sandwich with eggs, bacon, and cheese. It was perfectly respectable and my only complaint is that the eggs were scrambled rather than over easy or poached, which is my preference. The sandwich also came with a side salad and both MichaelBDC and I had coffee to drink.

While service was fine, the kitchen was S-L-O-W. We were only one of four tables when we were seated and I observed that one table was finishing up their meal, while two others had already put in their orders. Still, our food took so long to come out we joked that we could have made a grilled cheese and breakfast sandwiches ourselves in that time. Our server came by regularly to keep our coffee filled but didn't mention anything about the status of our food or offer us bread or the chance to order something while we waited. Looking back, we probably should have ordered something to nibble on once the wait got to be on the long side.

We also picked up three cheese on our way out (L'Amuse (gouda), Shropshire (blue cheese that was actually orange), and Quicke's Cheddar). Very helpful and friendly cheesemonger that eagerly gave recommendations and tastes. We definitely need to go back for a cheese board.

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Sona is a fun little restaurant/store.  The kinda place where one meets up with a friend for a nice long chat.  And really what better way to chat and catch up then over a grilled cheese sandwich and a glass of wine?

We arrived around 8:30pm on a Saturday night and the place was fairly quiet, with one group of 8 people, a few other tables full, and a couple of people hanging out at the bar.  We went with:

Sriracha Apple Grilled Cheese (Comté, Tillamook Cheddar, Cabot Cheddar, green apples, sourdough $8.)  We felt it could have used more apple

The Obsession Grilled Cheese (Valdeon Blue, date purée, bacon, Tillamook Cheddar, Cabot Cheddar, sourdough $8.)  Pretty much perfect.

Veggie Mac (brussels sprouts, zucchini, tomatoes, mushrooms $9)  Oddly, we felt it could have been cheesier.  And the vegetables got lost at the bottom of the plate.

Bread and Butter. ($4) Awesome butter, ordinary baguette.

Neither of the grilled cheese sandwiches were served with a side salad, as reported above, so maybe that is a new change.  We ordered some fries, which were crisp and tasty.

We had several different wines, the best being the Chenin Blanc L'Ecole 2013.  Many of the by-the-glass wines are in the $10-$13 range, and priced a couple dollars too much.  But such is the way of wine pricing these days.

My one caveat is this is one of those places where you think you won't spend a lot of money, but the bill can add up quickly.  Dinner for three ended up in the $100 range with tax, but not tip.

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I really like Sona a lot - sorry to hear it was dead on a Saturday night. I remember a nice cauliflower dish, and a couple good cheeses and glasses of wine. You're right - it is way too easy to rack up the bill. Still, I'd probably be a regular (or at least a semi-one) if I lived nearby.

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