Enter Stone Brewing World Bistro and Gardens: a desert oasis, exquisitely and artfully designed to take you on a journey to a new Shangri-La. As you enter this food and brew heaven through a lilac-canopied walkway, you are greeted by stoic stone, vaulted ceilings, 30-foot glass walls that peer into the pristine brewery, and an open-air bistro distinguished by koi ponds and glistening fire pits.
Reading the extensive menu may well transport you to regions near and far, given the diverse cultural and regional influences incorporated into the eclectic array of dishes. Substitutions are explicitly welcomed, and the chef also caters to vegetarians and vegans.
The Mac 'n Beer Cheese is a must-have. This dish is made with Mike's Stone Smoked Porter & garlic beer cheese with basil, enriched with Stone Smoked Porter sausage from T&H Prime Meats & Sausage, an artisan butcher in San Marcos ($14.50). Baked under a crunchy crust of bread crumbs and minced carrot and garnished with plenty of intensely flavorful sausage, the dish makes you wonder how something so decadent and filling could be listed as an appetizer.
A Stone favorite, all-natural wild boar baby back ribs, are seasoned with the house dry rub, braised in Stone Smoked Porter, grilled, slathered with chile Agave Glaze and served with a crisp apple slaw that balances all the other elements ($12).
Stone's spicy curried mussels ($15), harvested at Carlsbad Aquafarms, are served in a sweet, slightly spicy green Thai sauce smoothed with coconut milk. The flavors of lemon grass, Thai basil, mint, cilantro and piquant chilies bring out the best in the plump, juicy mussels, and the creamy curry sauce was irresistible when mopped up with the restaurant's dense yet fluffy, herb-infused focaccia bread ($2).
Seasoned with tangy sea salt and served warm with specially-made Carlsbad's Gourmet Dijon mustard, the Stone soft-style pretzels are made specifically to be dunked in a fine Cheddar cheese sauce ($8.50). Doughy interiors contras and crunchy outsides, making these little delights a perfect match for an ice-cold Maui Dobb Overhead IPA.
Pan-roasted scallops, served with a delectable, truffled potato puree and a mushroom- cabernet demiglace sauce, are accompanied by micro greens and purple, yellow and orange carrots ($26). The vibrant flavors that accompany the large, tender scallops make you yearn for even more flavors of truffle and Cabernet Sauvignon.
The desert list composed by Jamaica-born pastry chef Andrew Higgins follows the regionally diverse tone set by the main menu. Stating, "We desire not to desert you in a desert of no desserts, and instead delight in offering this directory or delectable selections from delicate to dumfounding," the list succeeds – it's both delicate to dumbfounding.
Opera, a classic French sweet that layers almond cake and coffee butter cream, is topped with chocolate ganache and a garnish of coffee-covered espresso beans ($10). A rich toffee flavor unifies the beans and butter cream. The favorite, however, was a pineapple polenta torte. Inspired by traditional upside down pineapple cake, the Stone version uses a polenta base topped with a corn and pineapple confection and a pistachio tuille ($9). It's not too much to call the blueberry-blue cheese-jalapeno cheesecake astonishing, since this savory, luscious cheesecake features strong flavors of Rogue smoky blue cheese and jalapenos. A blueberry compote smoothes things out ($9).
It's not easy to choose a beer list that boasts more than 100 bottled brews and 30 craft beers on tap, especially after you taste the crisp freshness maintained by Stone's stainless steel keg lines. And if you're not there for the beer, also offers distinctive wines by the bottle and glass.
Although Stone Brewing Co. is more than a stone's throw from the city of San Diego, it is worth the trip. With frequent special events, daily complimentary brewery tours, a cool company store, and an amazing bistro and gardens, it offers far more than a glance into the ins and outs of one of the nation's leading craft breweries.
STONE BREWING CO., WORLD BISTRO & GARDENS
1999 Citracado Parkway, Escondido, CA 92029
Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens: Sunday – Thursday 11:00 A.M. – 11: 00 P.M., Friday & Saturday 11:00 A.M. – 12:00 A.M.
Brewery Tours: Monday – Friday, 12, 2, 4, & 6 P.M., Saturday 12, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, & 7 P.M., Sunday 12, 1, 2, 3, 4, & 6 P.M. (*Complimentary Tasting Follows)
Stone Company Store: for Growler fills, bottles, kegs, and Stone merchandise: Sunday – Thursday, 11:00 A.M. – 9:00 P.M., Friday & Saturday 11:00 A.M. – 10:00 P.M., Sunday 11:00 A.M. – 9:00 P/M.