A lot to love about Stone Brewing Co. restaurant

I mean seriously, where do I start when writing about the San Diego phenomenon that is Stone Brewing Co. and their World Bistro & Gardens restaurant? They are one of those businesses who do it right on so many levels. My introduction to Stone was a couple years ago when I was part of the company that filled their roof with solar panels. We held a launch event and working with the entire team at Stone was a real pleasure. That, combined with their bio-diesel trucks and overall commitment to sustainability, is reason enough to support this fine establishment. Those panels power a large portion of a sizeable establishment. I like that.
Oh, and did I mention the beer? That’s another story altogether as there is some seriously world-class beer going on at Stone. This column is about the food though, and the World Bistro & Gardens has established itself as a serious player on the San Diego dining scene.
The WBG as I’ll call it, uses only in-season, locally, regionally and organically grown produce and 100 percent naturally raised meats. Greg Koch and Steve Wagner, co-founders of Stone Brewing Co., have been involved in the international Slow Food movement since 2000. Slow Food celebrates artisanal, natural, and old-world approaches to food. Trust me, it’s a good thing. One other notable aspect of WBG is their commitment to being high fructose corn syrup-free. I think that’s pretty cool, especially after recently learning that is how vegans sweeten their deserts which confused me but then again, vegans confuse me in general. They have a cool saying at Stone that goes “we’re not health nuts, we’re quality nuts.” Perfectly said Stone people.
OK, so now that I have all that out of the way, let’s get to the menu which really is worthy of high praise. I seriously would enjoy trying everything on it, yet we did what we could to make a dent.
We started with the Pancetta and Clams, sourced from the Carlsbad Aquafarms cooked Portuguese-style with tomatoes, onions, garlic and smoked paprika served with grilled crostini. The chunky bits of Pancetta complimented the clams and the wonderful broth was perfect to dip the crostini in. I always like to come up with my own surf and turf so we ordered the artisanal sausage plate that includes an Arrogant Bastard smoked cheddar bratwurst, spicy polish, chicken Florentine, and hot Italian with Provolone. Served over braised cabbage and a side of Stone Pale Ale open seed spicy brown mustard. Yes, it was a great way to start the meal, but I’m not sure how I missed the wild boar baby back ribs which sound amazing. Starters range from $6 to $15, yet both dishes had plenty of food for two.
The all natural 13-ounce buffalo ribeye steak finished with chipotle butter and served with Cheswick aged white cheddar organic mashed sweet potatoes and fresh local greens was my choice of entrée. I’m a big fan of “tatonka” as the Lakota Sioux like to call it, and Chef Alex Carballo does it perfectly. Quinn went for the 3 BBQ duck tacos with Chile de Arbol-Stone Levitation Ale BBQ sauce, Esperanza’s corn tortillas, micro greens, Vella asiago cheese, salsa fresca and a pineapple habanera salsa. Wow, that’s a mouthful. Served with Peruvian beans and Spanish style short grain brown rice. Bison and duck prepared with originality and a flair for combining ingredients in a manner that compliment rather than overwhelm. The duck tacos came in at $21 and the buffalo ribeye was $31. Not cheap, but neither are the ingredients they are putting into play here. I will gladly pay a little more for quality and that is what this is all about.
Now I’m not a big dessert guy, but again, I wanted to try everything pastry chef Andrew Higgins had on his wonderful looking menu. I opted for the trio of Asian crème brulees and can honestly say I’ve never had any crème brulee that even come close matching the originality and unique flavor combinations as these. Citron, green tea, and chocolate ginger make up the trio and they were smooth and rich and light and airy at the same time. I like that combination. There are all kinds of other original takes on classic deserts ranging from $4 to $9.
Oh, and did I mention they are an award-winning brewery? There really is no excuse not to check this place out. It has something for everyone, kids are welcome, and they have many special event nights where they show movies, live music, etc. Check out their Web site for all the details at www.stoneworldbistro.com and www.stonebrew.com or call them at (760) 294-7866. Open Sunday to Thursday from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., and Friday and Saturday 11 a.m. to midnight and the kitchen closes at 10 p.m. every night. Reservations are strongly encouraged.

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