Barnaby Monk noon, July 30
Wine and Queso at Wet Stone
Located on the downslope of Fourth Avenue in Bankers Hill, there's a cozy vino-driven spot with a worldy eclectic serenity-now vibe that seems almost out of place amidst residences and office buildings mascarading as condo complexes. You could easily walk or drive right past the quaint first-floor facade of Wet Stone Wine Bar, but to do so would be to miss out.
It doesn't look like much, and that's what's so lovely about it. Chef/proprietor Christian Gomez, a San Diego native who developed his chops during years spent working stoves in L.A., has gone to a lot of work to create an easy going environment where he and his staff do all they can so patrons can do as little as possible and concentrate their minds and palates on a wine list comprised of lesser known varietals, the majority of which are imported from other countries.
The menu, which is made up of dishes with wide-ranging cuisinal influences and based on proteins, cheeses and produce that pair well with fermented grape-driven adult libations, changes with regularity, but one rather simple dish that's been delivering since Day One is the Quesadilla do Guyaba. Made using queso fresco, cotija and panela cheeses, it looks like a normal cheese-stuffed tortilla envelope, but an even layer of guava paste alters the overall flavor profile so that its akin to brie en croute with fruit preserves, but with a bite of salt from the Latin cheeses that makes this $9 starter a match with a variety of reds and even whites.
Given its sweetness and nappé of crème fraîche, it makes for a good beginning or ending dessert course. Versatility — just one more thing to love about the wondrous food group that is (or probably should be) fromage!