Cheap thrills on a Tuesday night |

Cheap thrills on a Tuesday night

Laura Ball
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EDWARDS – Chris Irving and Polly Forster lived just blocks apart from one another in San Francisco. They both loved walking out their front door to the nearby wine shop that also served as a cheese counter and gourmet food store, pulling a bottle off the shelf, slicing some fabulous imported cheese and sitting down to sample the goods before they even walked out the door.Years passed before Irving and Forster would actually meet – working at a restaurant in Vail – and their shared love of boutique-style dining blossomed into what is now eat! drink! in Edwards. The airy European-style cafe aligned with a beautiful wine store, which function as separate entities yet work together in the retail sense, opened officially in August 2004.

Inspired perhaps by their own love connection, the couple created Cheap Date Night, where you can grab a bottle of wine and a three-cheese plate for $25. When I asked my date to accompany me to Cheap Date Night he might have been a little offended, although I assured him it wasn’t he who was cheap, it was the price of our dinner.”It’s one of our busiest nights of the week,” Irving said.Indeed, as the sunset revealed shades of warm pinks and purples Tuesday night, you’d hardly guess it was the offseason. Couples and friends gathered in small groups to dine on cheese and wine, bringing with them sounds of warm laughter and low chatter.Irving credits the popularity of Cheap Date Night to its ease. “There’s not much thinking involved,” he said, because they do most of the thinking for you. Simply choose red or white and they’ll do the rest. Of course, if you have any preferences, like a strong dislike for bleu cheese, let them know. We chose red, Tinto Fundacion Mendoza, a beautiful medium-bodied an Argentinean cabernet. Since my date and I decided we love all cheese, once called “milk’s leap toward immortality” by Clifton Fadiman, we gave up complete control. A sip of cab, a morsel of cow cheese drizzled with honey, I was nearly in heaven.

Irving recommends building on the Cheap Date fare, “but not on the beverage side.” My date nodded in agreement. If you like olives, don’t miss the olive boat, a mix of their revolving olive bar ($6). My favorites were the Sicilian Castel Vetranos, bursting with fresh flavor. My date preferred the Alfonso olives, grapey, slightly acidic gems from Chile, which we went back for more of the next day. Heaven was getting closer by the one.The burrata ($8) is brilliant, too. “It’s my favorite dish on the menu,” Irving said. “I eat it every day.” Hardly resistible, scoop up the cold “liquid” mozzarella and fleur de sel with a thin, salty cracker. I think my date was craving steak, so I ordered the bruschetti assorti ($15), a little heartier than the cheese and olive platters. Choose three of six. The smoked salmon, creme fraise and lemon oil was our favorite. The gorgonzola, granny smith, fleur de sel and prosciutto, fig and marscapone came in at a close second. Since the shop enlists only the freshest ingredients, the menu is forever a work in progress. Nothing’s ever totally consistent, which makes it all the more exciting. Another beautiful thing about eat!’s a la carte-style menu is you can’t go wrong; Each dish is meant to complement one another.Just as unique as the menu is the eatery’s cheery, citrus chic interior with its lime green and sunshine yellow walls, speckled with pink flowers and products with candy-colored packaging to match in a spacious modern industrial meets and a glass garage door that opens when the weather permits is unlike any in the valley. When you meet Polly, you’ll notice the decor parallels her contagiously bright disposition. Even the of the popular specialty items like the lightly fried and salted Marcona almonds, the salamini from St. Louis, a procured spicy aromatic sausage, the dried strawberries, dried cherries and mission peaches and Vosques, some of the world’s finest chocolate. Eat! is open for lunch, too. Last week they started serving hot made-to-order paninis ($9) which come with a simple mixed greens salad. Irving’s favorite is the mouth-watering Campania with burrata, roman artichoke, mesculin, olive tapenade and lemon olive oil. The ingredients may be simple, but they are bursting with flavor.After some great wine, some elegant cheese and some olives that were to die for, I think my date forgot all about the fact that he was “cheap.”

Staff Writer Laura A. Ball can be reached 748-2939 or

Vail, Colorado

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