By Kareasa Wilkins
As a recent migrant to Sacramento from the Bay Area, I’ve been eager to try the numerous wine bars in the Sacramento metro. A friend recommended The Rind on L Street, and I’ve been there twice since I moved. The Rind is a quaint, cheese centric spot that’s a perfect place to unwind after a hard day of work or to gather with a few friends for happy hour. They offer daily specials, including Monday night fondue and Wednesday’s “Hump Happiness,” which boasts a free cheese platter when you purchase a bottle of $30 or more. This is truly a place to feed your inner cheese addict; they have a rotating menu of 30 +cheeses, including local favorites like Point Reyes Blue and Humbolt Fog, as well as far off finds like Italy’s La Tur. Cheese is the core of the main menu as well, with a wide selection of gourmet mac ‘n cheese and grilled cheese. The wine menu, though small, contains an eclectic mix of international wines at great price points. This is an excellent place to expand your palate by trying wines you’ve never heard of. You can find German bubbly, Viognier from Santa Barbara, Moschofilero from Greece, and The Rind’s best selling wine, Teroldego from Friuli.
My husband and I recently stopped by The Rind on a Wednesday, so we went for the bottle and cheese platter special. We had the Domaine de Cristia Grenache, a Vin de Pays from a good producer in the Rhône Valley. The Grenache was easy drinking with a nice peppery kick and worked well with our mix of sheep and cow’s milk cheeses from Spain and the UK. Not ones to be satisfied with just a cheese platter, we ordered more and more food as the evening went on. The Rind has followed the recent trend of haute comfort food, and we satisfied our hunger with some of their selections. Many Americans have fond memories of mac ‘n cheese from their childhood that came out of a blue box. These days, restaurants are gussying it up with anything from chilies to truffles. We opted for The Rind’s lobster mac ‘n cheese, and it was absolutely to die for. The cheese sauce was rich and creamy with just a hint of heat, and the large chunks of lobster were mouth wateringly tender. My only regret was that I didn’t order a rich chardonnay to go with it, because while a big buttery chardonnay may be about the least food friendly wine there is, the one exception to that rule is pairing it with big rich shellfish.
After the complimentary cheese platter and lobster mac, we were still a little hungry so we went for the “Pepper Popper”—grilled sourdough loaded with Beecher’s Flagship Cheddar and Laura Chenel Chevre , and spicy roasted poblanos and jalepeños. Not the most wine friendly thing on the menu, mind you, but for grilled cheese, which I generally find boring, this explosion in the mouth was anything but dull. I doubt their was a wine on the menu that would’ve worked with this, but thankfully, The Rind has an impressive beer menu as well, so in this situation you can always order a nice IPA to cool the heat.
In my quest for quality wine bars in Sacramento, The Rind works on many levels. They’ve got a small but charming atmosphere, unique wine selection, and a menu full of cheesy goodness.