Do you have a restaurant that you love to eat at but for one reason or another don’t make it there as often as you’d like? Cellar on Greene is just such a place for me. They have a beautifully varied menu with lots of local ingredients, and a fanciful flair to their offerings without being too high falutin’. But they certainly can cater to those high rollers with some of their spendier bottles of wine, whereas my wine request was for something “cheap and white, much like myself.”
Friday morning I went into work with no plans for the weekend and emerged mere hours later with a need for a little escapism from the harsh realities of life, and plans to meet my friend Emily for an early dinner at Cellar. And by early dinner I definitely mean 5 p.m. because I was right around the corner at the office anyways, and we were both eager to beat the rush and find easy parking spots. I found her waiting for me in the cool, cozy and dim atmosphere and we immediately ordered our wines.
Because I am ridiculous I spent a little time earlier in the work day perusing the menu to see what I was going to daydream about ordering for a few hours and by the time we were at the table I Knew What I Wanted. Except For Dessert. What kind of wine did I end up after ordering something cheap and white? I quaffed, yes quaffed, a full glass of Acrobat Pinot Gris from Oregon. As a person not terribly well versed in wine, I’ll offer this: I liked it. It went down smoothly, with no crazy sourness and it wasn’t so sweet that it left a lingering syrupy taste in my mouth. What more could one ask for?
My first course was the pesto goat cheese stuffed squash, which has a tomato-basil coulis (had to Google what coulis was!), and balsamic-thyme onion jam, on a bed of arugula. This was an explosion of so many flavors I love here. The squash was the perfect vehicle for the tangs of the goat cheese and balsamic to interact with the umami flavors of the thick tomato-basil sauce, with the softened onions providing an easy, yielding crunch. The arugula underneath got the important role of sopping up all of the leftover juices and pieces that fell on to the plate while I was
destroying savoring the rest of the dish. Not a drop was wasted. If you like goat cheese but at all, you’ll love this.
My entree was the zucchini fritters that I saw on their Facebook page earlier in the week. Conveniently, it also incorporated the tomato-basil coulis, which tied the first and second course together in a way that just felt right. In addition to the coulis, this dish also featured pesto-arugula Israeli couscous, Parmesan gremolata, and City Roots sprouts. Israeli couscous are like little baby pasta orbs which held up to the thick and pungently fresh basil pesto (oh, that pestoooooo). The fritters were warm, crisp complements to the cool pasta salad. You’d be ridiculous not to love these, even if you don’t know what a gremolata is either (also something I had to Google).
(Photo via: Cellar on Greene Facebook)
The dessert option was difficult, a true first world problem if there ever was one. Since it was a balmy 80 degrees on that January afternoon I went for the lighter berry tart instead of the pumpkin cognac cheesecake. If it ever cools down again, that pumpkin cheesecake will be mine. The berry tart consisted of a layer of mixed berries in raspberry sauce on an adorable little cake that was spongy and not too sweet to let the natural sugars of the berries shine. Accompanied by a dollop of fresh whipped cream, my only issue with this tart is that it wasn’t the size of a dinner plate, because I wanted more, more, more.
And just as sweet was meeting Kaitlin, the voice behind Cellar’s Twitter and Facebook presence, who recognized me from my salivating over the photos she’d posted earlier in the week. There’s still more than half a week left for Restaurant Week Columbia, but the good news here is that Cellar on Greene offers these dishes and prices even outside of RWSC, so get yourself down to this little gem located right there beside the Claussen’s Inn on Greene St, right at the top of Five Points.