I ride my bike to the windy city's hidden gems, lost goldmines, new kids on the block, and old standbys then tell you what to think and what to order. Check, czech, Česká it out...

Thursday, February 24, 2011

We're Just Ordinary People: Part 1, Cellar Door (Evanston)

Once referred to as the Athens of Illinois for its high concentration of intellectuals, Evanston is now known better as the home to Kevin from the Home Alone movies and a small but respectable smattering of eateries (that and Northwestern, but who cares).

On a cold and dreary weeknight I rolled up to E-town to check out The Cellar, which is a plus-one to the full service (read, higher priced) The Stained Glass. The restaurant focuses on small plates, most of which hover around ten bucks. The Cellar also features a spunky little wine list and enough craft beer to keep a beer snob entertained for hours.

What I Got*:
the spooky scary pork belly
-Bacon Wrapped Dates- Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs clearly states that humans crave four things above all else: sweet things, salty things, a decent weeknight sitcom, and bacon. My friends, this dish meets THREE of those needs. As if dates and bacon weren't enough to satisfy your greedy taste buds those crazy fucks in the kitchen infused the interior of the date with chorizo and topped it with manchego cheese. This is edible crack (wait, is real crack edible?).
-Smoked Salmon Flatbread: This elliptical gem was served with a pesto base and topped with feta and arugula and fit in my mouth like Forrest Gump fit into the army. Flatbreads are everywhere these days but this was one of the best I've had. Why? you ask. Because it did two seemingly contradicting things at the same time: it was loaded with delicious ingredients (that brought the noise (and by noise I mean flavor)) yet said ingredients never compromised the integrity of the flatbread. Bravo.
-Braised Pork Belly with "Marrow" Potatoes- This dish gets the creativity Oscar. Observe: the root vegetables and potatoes formed a bone-and-marrow-look-a-like foundation upon which the pork belly rested (slightly overcooked, but still smoky and scrumptious) and maybe, just maybe, the red wine demi-glace was meant to look like blood? Not sure but it was good.
-House Fries with Truffle Mayo- I ordered these based on a friend's recommendation (it's actually off menu) and goes to show that truffle oil infused mayo (or aioli, or remoulade, or sweat) can save even the greasiest most flaccid of french fries. 

-Stone Levitation Ale (Bottle, California) and Great Lake Eliot Ness (Draft, Ohio): Not much of a reach here as I've liked both these beers for years (rhyme anyone?). Both are amber in color and relatively low in ABV, and both pair well with smoky, spicy and robustly seasoned foods (like pork belly, chorizo or smoked salmon).

Brass Tacks:
I really, really like this place and you will too as long as you like creative and good tasting food in a casual atmosphere and don't mind trekking up to the wild streets of "Heavenston" to get it. As an added incentive their sales tax is 1.25% lower than ours** so you can go BUCKWILD shopping at the Radioshack, Barnes and Noble or Urban Outfitters and laugh in the face of all your chump Chicago friends.

*note: They were 86'd the Ale Steamed Mussels (with ginger, grilled garlic toast and shiitake mushrooms) and I wanted them SO bad.
**For future reference don't trust me with stats like this as I often cite them based on fuzzy memories rather than actual data.

The Cellar Beer and Wine Bar on Urbanspoon
The Cellar

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