Who says there aren’t any good spots in South County? In San Clemente alone, there is Vine, Brick, and now, I’m here at The Cellar. It sure took me long enough! I’ve been meaning to visit for a very long time, but never got around to it. I meet a friend for a leisurely lunch on this beautiful Sunday. The restaurant is busy, but we are seated pretty swiftly. First things first, of course, a little champagne cocktail is in order before we begin. This one has a beautiful candied hibiscus flower in the glass.
Since we are at a cheese shop, it is only fitting that we enjoy a Cheese Board Selection ($12/3 selections). Manager Danielle brings us a board of her choosing, and I especially love the D’affinois with honey and Marcona almonds, while my friend enjoys the harder cheeses –Manchego with balsamic reduction and roasted tomatoes; Noord Hollander Gouda with dried fruits — especially the Gouda.
I love soup and there is a daily offering which rotates frequently. On the day of our visit, Soup ($7) is a creamy butternut squash, a creamy, silky delicious bowl which I eat most of.
If you’re like me, then Foie Gras ($12) is definitely on the agenda. This is offered as a special and is a generous size portion of seared foie served with brioche toast points and chopped chives. It is very rich, so I suggest sharing this item.
Moving on to entrees, the Short Ribs ($28) are exceptionally well prepared in a rich red wine sauce. The meat is perfectly executed, that even I have to admit, it’s really good — I’m not fond of short ribs! The creamy gouda-grits is addicting, and the baby chard adds a welcoming bitterness to the richness. I want more of it!
Chicken & Waffles ($) is definitely unique here. The chicken is first confit in duck fat, then fried and served with a Kennebec potato waffle and a maple brown butter. The texture is very different to regular waffles — breaks apart easily — but possesses really good flavor. The chicken is juicy and tender, but I would have liked the skin to be crispier. All in all, a stellar item.
Cellar Cookie Sandwich ($8) arrives in a skillet with a chocolatey warm biscuit topped with a scoop of lavender vanilla ice cream, and a sprinkling of Maldon sea salt. The biscuit is gooey and decadent. We eat the ice cream quickly as it is melting from the heat of the cookie. I’m not able to detect the lavender but the Maldon sea salt crystals are highly distinctive.
The Cellar is so much more than just a wine bar or cheese shop, and the menu is a true reflection of that.
156 Avenida Del Mar
San Clemente, CA 92672