I'm so excited for this post! After months of vying for a spot, I was able to experience Cellar Door, the best restaurant in San Diego that's not an actual restaurant. Cellar Door is a supper club concept brought to life by Chef Logan and mixologist Gary in their Normal Heights living room. One weekend a month, a few lucky patrons are invited to share a meal with a set of strangers at a long table, with a pre-selected menu.
A tasting menu is selected and prepared by Logan, with Gary mixing up cocktails and pairing wines and beers with the food. Now, being an introvert myself, sitting in a house full of strangers and sharing a meal and trying to make conversation sounds terrifying -- and it was! However, once the drinks were flowing, and everyone started eating, the conversation flowed and we all found some common ground -- namely, we all really appreciated good food.
We started the night with one of the most industrious, original items that I've ever consumed. A crudo of hamachi, yuzu hot sauce, chilis, and kumquats, served on a shell! Light and the perfect few bites to start our meal. This dish was paired with an Aperol spritz, which is quickly becoming a favorite in our house. I love the light, refreshing tingle of the prosecco and club soda with the bitter Aperol. The crudo was spicy due to the hot sauce and chilis, so something refreshing was a wise pairing.
The pickled, roasted beets served with homemade ricotta on top of a slice of sesame baguette was my favorite of the evening. Not to say that any of the food was less than stellar, but getting me to eat and enjoy beets is a superhuman feat, and this dish had me begging for more. Something about the combination of a beet with flavor, fresh cheese, and crusty bread just made it all perfect.
Another reason for this favorite course? A whiskey drink. Yep, I love refreshing, citrus whiskey drinks, and the pairing for this course was a whiskey lavender lemonade! It was very sweet and tasted just like summer. Definitely something that I'll try to replicate at home this July!
Taking a different turn but still keeping in the different foods prepared expertly, the next course was a Japanese street food, the okonomiyaki, a fluffy pancake stuffed with seafood and served with a dark sauce and extra-creamy Japanese mayonnaise. Paired with a saison beer, this course was a delicious, filling food that really updated and glamorized a simple dish.
If any of these courses would be considered the "main course," (I wouldn't call this experience that...it was more like a tasting menu, like a Japanese kaiseki style meal, with multiple courses all of the same size, and an artistic compartmentalizing of flavors and textures). I was pretty full by the time that the pork loin arrived, but I was determined to try the cumin-rubbed pork served with poblano pepper sauce, roasted brussels sprouts, and smashed and seasoned fingerling potatoes. Again, it was amazing, and paired with another homemade wine, the Cellar Door Barbera. Again, it was all beautifully presented and delicious.
I could only take one bite of dessert before I asked for a box, but the rum raisin bread pudding was incredible. Made with challah and served with rum raisin ice cream from Mariposa, as only the best bread puddings deserve Mariposa ice cream. I'm usually not much of a raisin person, and my husband detests them, but we both loved this bread pudding! Paired with Dictador rum on the rocks, it was a real wowser of a dessert course.
All of this was provided for a very reasonable price -- seriously, you'll want to pay more. I really want to return when I can get another reservation! Check it out sometime, definitely worth the wait!