A fromage fanatic’s delight
Sacramento, CA 95811
It was supposed to have opened last fall, but, like any good cheese, The Rind needed to ripen before it was ready. Now it’s been open for less than two months, and it’s quickly proven itself to be the perfect complement to the rapidly maturing “gourmet grid.”
Snuggled in a former retail space between Buckhorn Grill and the future Capital Dime, The Rind is a fromage fanatic’s delight. Rows of refrigerated cases behind the bar display a muted rainbow of cheese. Modern light fixtures and a spare design define the lofty interior.
The Rind doesn’t take reservations, so arrive early or opt for lunch if you don’t want the wait. Sitting at the bar is nice for chatting with the cheesemongers. You can watch them weigh wedges with precision on a digital scale and use a plane to make fancy edible blooms.
The menu is a work in progress, changing frequently. A recent addition is polenta bruschetta, which has slices of fine-grained polenta fried crisp in butter and Fiscalini Farmstead cheddar, then topped with a summer ambrosia of corn, tomatoes and basil. It’s an inspired combination. A special salad of diced cantaloupe with feta, mint and chili oil was lively, but could have used a bit more zing from the chilies.
A chalkboard by the bar lists the daily suggested trios for cheese boards, but you can order the Diving Board and choose your own combo. Each board arrives with six very crisp toasts and two sides, like dried fruit and honey. The rations are small, but reasonable for two people. I’ve never met a cheese plate that had enough bread, but a fork of robbiola dipped in honey was a revelation in the absence of more toast.
If you love the samples or want to make your own plate at home, you can buy any of the cheeses by the pound. Ask for the list at the bar.
The many grilled-cheese choices come with a side of mixed greens in a light, lemony dressing flavored with Parmesan. The caprese salad featured perfect red tomatoes with melting burrata and Italian basil. A drizzle of balsamic vinegar added a nice zip. The Mediterranean salad arrived layered with smoked pork, Comté cheese and romesco sauce on focaccia. The flavors were well-balanced, and the yielding bread held up nicely. Order a cup of the herbal roasted tomato soup on the side for a grown-up version of your favorite childhood lunch.
The Rind also offers several versions of mac and cheese. It seems that people have strong feelings for the type they grew up with, so if you like creamy and rich, this is your place. Not Your Mom’s Mac, with Parmesan, Gruyere and cheddar, is silky smooth, without any excess oil. It offers a bit of crunch from bread crumbs, but even more would add a great contrast. A richer version includes blue cheese and prosciutto for over-the-top indulgence.
There are lots of fun sides and drinks to pair with all those cheeses. Try the Bundaberg lemon-lime soda with bitters, or La Fin du Monde beer with an aromatic clove finish. You could make a meal out of just pairing several choices with cheeses and learning about the combinations. It would be a great help if the drinks menu recommended cheeses with an affinity for the different quaffs. Or maybe a chart of suggested pairings?
It’s a young operation, and there are a few kinks to straighten. The noise can be overwhelming when it’s busy, and cloth napkins would hold up better than paper. More creativity in the dessert area (cheesecake? Gorgonzola and honey?) would make it feel less of an afterthought. The cheese and chocolate board is a fantastic start, however.
The Rind is a great addition to the dining scene. Give it time to fully bloom, and Sacramento will have a celestial cheesery.