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Instant Reaction: The Rind Cheese, Wine & Beer Bar

The Rind, a much anticipated and buzzed about occupant of the 1801 L Street building, opened for business on Thursday, and over the weekend, I had a chance to stop by for a quick bite and drink.

Two friends and I arrived a little after 7 p.m. on Saturday evening. The restaurant, which seats 10 at the bar and 18 at a mix of high top and regular tables, was busy, but not packed. We were able to grab a seat right away.

As we got situated, we noticed how great the decor was. The owners have been working on the place for months, and their attention to detail shows. Their sign with the wine corks is original. The lighting blends well with the space, and the wood used in the bar is reclaimed.

Surveying the menu, their selections were broken up into a couple different sections. They had a selection 4 cheese plates and one charcuterie plate ($12 to $14), six different types of grilled cheese sandwiches ($6 to $11) two types of mac and cheese (Prosciutto baked mac and cheese and a 3 cheese Parmigiano-Reggiano, Gruyere and Cheddar mix, both $11) and two desserts ($7). For those truly seeking just a snack, they also serve crackers, bread or jam are $1 each, with olives or cornichons (small, pickled gherkins) at $3.

Since we were headed to a party later that night, we didn't want to eat a full meal and decided to order a couple things to share.

We started off with the Purgatory Cheese Board for $12, with La Tur from Alta Langa, Italy, a triple creme Brie, and a creamy washed-rind cheese. I'll admit that most of the cheese I eat is usually in pizza form, but I really enjoyed the spread. I especially liked the pairing of honey with the cheeses. I don't know if it's common, but I've never seen it before and loved the combination of flavors. I have two minor suggestions for this dish. Our group wished they had a couple more slices of bread and a couple almonds or something else to add textual diversity.

Next, we ordered The Provencal grilled cheese for $11. Per the menu, it had a mix of two cheeses from Provence, O'Banon and a goat camembert, alogn with one from Switzerland called Tete de Moine. Melted into a focaccia loaf and delicate prosciutto. We really enjoyed the sandwich. The crust had a great crunch. The cheese was well melted without being burn-your-tongue hot. The greens that came along with it were fresh and well dressed. 


We also added a cup of roasted tomato soup for $3. All three of us enjoyed the chunkiness of the tomatoes soup. The one little drawback is that it came lukewarm, though. We would have preferred our soup a little warmer.

There's been some online chatter that $11 is too much for a grilled cheese sandwich. While I understand the sentiment, you're not just paying for the food. The restaurant's in a prime location and the venue's upscale. If you want an affordable cheese, you can make that at home. With that said, I do think the mac and cheese at $11 seemed a little pricey.

As for drinks, they serve a half dozen beers on draft ($6 to $8), including a local option from Ruhstaller. They also have 15 wines by the glass ($7 to $13), and a fantastic artisnal soda, Bundaberg Lemon, Lime & Bitters. It's as if somebody decided to make a good tasting Sprite.

It was clear that the restaurant had only been open a few days. They made a very strong effort to provide good service, but they got a couple things wrong. First, the waiter didn't write down our order, and when our first dish came out 30 minutes after we sat down, it was the wrong cheese dish. Later, one of the waiters accidentally refilled the glass with the artisan Sprite with water. (They offered to get us another soda, but we declined.) And when it was time to pay, after one waiter had swiped our credit card, before we had a chance to sign the receipt and leave a tip, another waiter came by and tried to run our card again.

In the grand scheme of things, these are little things that can get fixed. As they get more reps as a unit, these little mistakes will become less frequent and they'll have more to show for their effort.

For one beer, one soda, a cheese plate, a grilled cheese sandwich and a cup of soup, our bill came to $38, before tip. The place isn't cheap, but in that part of town, it's correctly priced.

I love their concept, I like the space and I can't wait to go back to try their mac and cheese and some of their wines.

The Rind is located at 1801 L Street, and can be found online at

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