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A prohibition-themed surprise awaits in the basement of J’adore Fine Cheese and Chocolate

Formarly open only for private events, The Speakcheasy now open to the public
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Jessi Fournier behind the bar at The Speakcheasy. Shawn Gibson for BarrieToday

If you’re looking for a fine cheese and chocolate place, J’adore is your spot. If you’re looking to enter the 1920’s prohibition era, just go downstairs.

J’adore Fine Cheese and Chocolate has been providing Barrie with a little taste of the world going into their third year now.

Located at 123 Dunlop Street east, the shop is a family passion for owners Jessi Fournier and her sister Bekki Martin, but you’ll often see many family members helping out when you stop by.

“We’ve always been foodies in this family,” said Fournier. We just love to add cheese and chocolate to the eating experience when we dine. We would always order the cheese plate and converse over that, and so it made us realize that others would maybe be looking for a specialty shop for that same reason. It’s a wonderful experience to combine different flavours.”

With over 100 types of cheese and just as many chocolate treats, J’adore is a quaint little shop packed with so many delights it will take you a while to make your way around the counters and shelves full of product. With cheese from Ontario producers and chocolate made on site, J’adore is a big supporter of staying fresh.

“We make all of our chocolate here and have a chocolatier here six days a week making our chocolates so it’s always fresh,” said Fournier. “There are no additives or things like that so it’s this beautiful pure chocolate that our chocolatier uses.”

Already a different type of business in the city, J’adore recently stepped it up to a must-see business. A side entrance next to the fromagerie shop’s front window will lead you down a narrow, brick-walled staircase into a gorgeous hideaway called The Speakcheasy. Playing on the term speakeasy which was a 1920’s saloon or nightclub that illegally sold alcohol during the prohibition era, The Speakcheasy’s decor is straight out of that time. There is a picture of the infamous gangster Al Capone behind the bar and the dim lighting with dark wooden furniture will make you feel transported.

“The Speakcheasy had been closed with the exception of private pairings,” said Fournier. “Now we’re going to be open for the public to drop in and all of our cheese plates will have prohibition-era themes like the Al Capone Plate and the Gangster Plate which is Do What Your Told and Eat. Our menu will have fun pairing suggestions too like the Sinatra’s Song which is served with a nice crisp white wine. It’s a really wonderful place to come and sit down with some palate-pleasing food and beverages.”

If you had been upstairs at J’adore before heading downstairs to The Speakcheasy and something caught your eye, you can also order what you saw which allows customers to try different cheeses and chocolates throughout their visits.

“The really neat thing is designing your own plate,” said Fournier. “Because we sell everything upstairs as it is, this is a really great way to educate yourself about the choices. We have people come back constantly to have a cheese plate with different selections than the last time they were here.”

While some may think the cheese and chocolates atmosphere isn’t meant for them, Fournier is happy to say it is for everybody and the folks she has had come in have proven that.

“The interesting thing is because we have the chocolate and because we have the cheese I find that the people who come in here are just food passionate,” said Fournier.

“Moms will bring their little ones in who love cheese which is a healthier choice than other places. Moms and dads are not grabbing the mainstream named candy bars, but rather having a hand-crafted pure chocolate treat. I also find that people are really enjoying that shop-local aspect which is exactly what we provide. It’s also entertaining and something new for people to experience.”

Fournier admits she loves Europe’s idea of sitting down with a crusty baguette a cheese plate and glass of wine or beer, which is perfect for the upcoming Big Hops for Big Cheeses night on May 27. The 1:30pm to 3pm event next Saturday will be a salute to hoppy craft beer s for those not looking for a glass of wine. 

If you’re looking to make it out for the first time, The Speakcheasy’s new hours will accommodate your long weekend needs as it is open Friday and Saturday 12PM to 8Pm and Thursday’s 3PM to 8PM.

Although Fournier is excited about the new times and accessibility to the establishment, she is more excited that even those will change soon.

“We are building a 600 square foot patio out back which will be two-tiered and we’ll be working on that this weekend,” said Fournier. “So people will have to stay tuned to our sites to see our new and improved hours.”

For more details on J’adore and The Speakcheasy, check out the website at www.jadorefinecheese.com

or on Facebook @Cheeseshopbarrie 

Twitter @jadorecheese

Instagram @jadorefinecheese