Quaint artisan foods line the walls opposite a long counter filled with cheeses. The small shop shines with rustic charm. Across the street, its companion bistro crafts an intimate setting of dim light, warm brick, and fanciful chalk lettering.
Local gourmet hotspot The Welsh Rabbit runs both a traditional cheese shop in addition to a small bistro, both located near College and Riverside in Old Town.
The venture began with the shop in spring 2012.
“There were just ten tables in the cheese shop for about two years, but it would get so loud in there,” sous chef Erin Standley said.
The Hines decided to differentiate their kitchen and shop, although Standley said, “some people still buy cheese on the other side and ask to eat it in there, so we have a few tables outside.”
Adventurous eaters will take delight in the number of extremely unique dishes featured on the menu. Beet polenta, honey caramel crickets, and bison tongue are among the more unconventional offerings.
“My favorite dish to eat and make is probably the sage quail,” Standley said. “The cream sauce is very tasty.”
The cheese is where the Welsh Rabbit truly shines, however, with over 28 cheeses and 11 meats for diners to choose from. Cheesemongers can recommend pairings for every palette. Fruit, olives, or a baguette with olive oil and balsamic reduction can be added to enhance the experience. Guests may also select from three pre-curated platters of varying sizes.
For those of age, there are a handful of beers on tap and a plentiful selection of rich wines to choose from.
Across the way in the shop, cheesemonger Cody Cook has been working in the shop for three and a half years and is an expert in the art of cheese. She explained the history behind her personal favorite, large alpine cheesewheels.
“They used to send cows into the mountains and had to find a way to store that much milk, so they would make huge wheels of cheese and carry them off the mountain strapped to the backs of donkeys,” Cook said. “There’s even a group that protects the cheeses and makes sure they’re still being made traditionally.”
Much like those cultural preservation groups, The Welsh Rabbit supports the Fort Collins community in a number of ways.
Brick + Mortar is a program that allows local chefs an opportunity to operate out of the Welsh Rabbit’s facility for four Sundays. The chefs craft both a brunch and dinner menu, which can remain fixed or change each week.
Cameron Trezoglou is hosting his third week this Sunday. Tickets can be purchased for $35 not including cocktails here. The menu is pre-published on the homepage.
“Last week he made goat, soft serve ice cream with dry ice, and edible flowers,” Standley said. “Everything he makes looks just beautiful.”
Owner Dean Hines also doubles as a professor at Colorado State University. He teaches Foundations and Business Sustainability and a graduate course, Sustainable Venturing in the New Economy.
The Welsh Rabbit recycles, composts, and draws heavily from wind power.
“Most of us end up walking or biking in to work,” Hines said. “When you hire people with the same values as you, [sustainability] is just built into the business.”
Hines and management have also partnered with FoCo Cafe, contributing an amount of monthly profits and offering cheese at cost.
“We also try just to talk about it and raise awareness when we can,” Hines said. “We’re really grateful for how excited and accepting the Fort Collins community has been to both our businesses.”
Whether you’re searching for gourmet cheese to take home, a delicious and locally-sourced meal out, or the perfect atmosphere for date night — The Welsh Rabbit delivers it all.