There is still a small Quiznos poster in the kitchen at Vinbero – the only evidence that the cozy wine bar in a small strip mall was a sandwich chain. Fortunately, Kali and Kris Kelnero, owners of the Kelnero-branded wine and cocktail bar, both located in downtown Edmonds, didn’t have a pizza-shaped roof to contend with when they took over the space a year ago.
However, they have captured space with followers. For the nine years before Vinbero opened, the space was The Cheesemonger’s Table owned by Strom Peterson and Maria Montalvo, a couple who have been running restaurants in Edmonds for decades.
Peterson is currently the state representative and Montalvo works for a non-profit organization; Kali Kelnero says the couple ran The Cheesemonger’s Table “as a kind of hobby.” However, “it’s not a fun pastime when there’s a pandemic and it takes an outrageous time.”
The restaurant community in Edmonds is closely knit, and when Peterson and Montalvo approached Kelneros with a proposal to take over the business, Kelnero called it an offer “we can’t refuse.”
“Although we found out maybe a week ago that we were pregnant with our first child, and it was still an epidemic. But at that point it was clear to us [our restaurant] Killnero was alive. So, we decided to go for better or for worse.
They’ve given the space a face lift – it now features an intimate open kitchen with an impressive abstract wood installation on the walls and a welcoming bar. The red leather seats are the same as the Kelnero’s comfortable seats, which is a very intentional decision.
“Uncomfortable restaurant chairs are like vending style. When we opened Kelnero, we were like this bull. We literally sat on the chairs. [to find the best]. “
Some things have stayed the same as they were when the Cheesemonger table was. They still serve popcorn, for example, but have replaced the truffle seasoning with butter, salt, and pepper. Cheesemonger’s Table regulars will recognize a few sandwiches—wild turkey, caprese, and chicken club—but there’s also Banh Mee, French Onion Sandwich, and Reuben, as well as salads, soups, and an evening menu with more tapas-style small plates. Kelnero says the evening program is a nod to Olives, the first restaurant Peterson and Montalvo opened in more than 20 years. The wine list is solid, and offers something simple for any price range.
A friend and I split the banh mi ($16) and turkey ($15), both served with popcorn. We also chose a bowl of gooey mac and cheese ($11). The sandwiches are pure Goldilock perfection – not too big and not too small. They are positively stuffed with the filling, the bread that is sourced from nearby at The Cottage Community Bakery. Kelnero says cottage owner Conor O’Neill created a baking program exclusively for Vinbero only. The restaurant also sells their amazing Chocolate Rye Cookie ($3), which is rightfully listed as the “World’s Best Sea Salt and Chocolate Chocolate Cookie” on the list. Add all that and a glass of orange wine (they also have a great beer, mead, and non-alcoholic menu), and Vinbero is a great place for a relaxing lunch.
If you spend evenings at Vinbero, keep an eye on their social media for a wine dinner every three months.
Finbiru: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday; 203 Fifth Ave. S., Suite 1, Edmonds; 425-640-8949; vinbero.bar
Elsewhere in Edmonds, I had the biggest sandwich of my life in neighboring Bucatini. The classic Italian red sauce joint has been a neighborhood favorite since it opened in 2016.
If you’re in the mood to split a sandwich with someone (seriously), consider going there either The Meatball ($15.75) or The Wild Rockfish ($15.75). Each is half a loaf of bread, split open and crammed with toppings. I’m talking about meatballs more than you’ll find in a plate of spaghetti and meatballs. Plates of rockfish fillets are dredged in lime breadcrumbs and stacked obscenely high.
Scoop the meatballs with garlic marinara sauce that drips onto the toast, softening just enough to reduce crunch. It’s topped with a layer of melted mozzarella and provolone and is probably large enough to split three ways.
Wild Rockfish has a creamy rémoulade and a crunchy lemon cabbage salad. It looks a little lighter than meatballs, but it’s still a massively great sandwich. Again, perfect for sharing – perhaps with a side salad added to help balance things out.
11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Saturday; 9818 Edmonds Way, Edmonds; 425-361-1487; bucatiniedmonds.com