Spaghetti with bottarga, the must-order at La Ciccia.
I just wrapped up a very important bacon blind tasting at my house. I'm emanating eau du smoke. The taste off was illuminating, though, and I think the results‚ which will be in our upcoming September issue‚ are going to be worth the grease facial.
Last week, I was invited to the friends and family preview dinner at The Abbot's Cellar, the beercentric restaurant owned by the Monk's Kettle guys—Nat Cutler and Christian Albertson—plus chef Adam Dulye, that just opened in the Mission (742 Valencia St.) a couple nights ago. I can't get over the transformation of this stretch of Valencia Street. It doesn't end. Peek into the soon-to-open Farina Pizzeria. What a cool space (as you can see on Grub Street). Though The Abbot's Cellar is certainly no slouch. It has soaring ceilings, walls of reclaimed wood (who doesn't these days?), and to contrast that, a sleek, modern open kitchen with a glowing, backlit bar made of beer glassware that's almost an art installation. With rafters that seem to rise up to the stars, the whole thing has an element of barn chic. Sitting there, I felt like I was in a different city.
The food made by chef Dulye is definitely a cut or three above pub grub. No burger or dogs or sports on a flatscreen to pair with it. We're talking the kind of food that can be plated with a smear. It's all developed to pair with their extensive beer selection, which is listed in a menu that literally tucks into your table. My favorite dish was a salad of calamari with beans, cherry tomatoes and parsley all tossed in a romesco sauce, but my husband enjoyed his steak with hen of the wood mushrooms, spring onions and pardon peppers.
I'm just going to put it out there now: I'm no beer expert, so I simply asked the server to just bring us what they thought was good. I don't know if beer tastes better in fancy glasses for psychological or scientific reasons, but there's no denying that being served stout in a snifter is pretty awesome.
As for what you need to order, I asked Cutler to give me the top three beers he's most excited to have on his menu. Because of their relationships with different beer makers, the following three beers are only available at the restaurant. That is, unless you want to take a road trip.
Three reasons The Abbot's Cellar is rich in beer:
1. Yeti Imperial Stout, Great Divide Brewing Co.
To get this stout made by a Denver-based brewing company, The Abbot's team drives down monthly to Southern California where it's distributed to retrieve it, making Abbot's the only place in Northern California to serve it. The beer is served in a snifter. Flavor profile: cocoa, ash, milk chocolate, espresso, burnt toast, and thyme.
2. Pivo Pils, Firestone Walker Brewery Co.
This amazing pilsner comes out of Paso Robles and Abbot's is the only place that carries it because of a relationship developed with the head brewer when they teamed up for an Outstanding in the Field event. The beer is served in a tall and narrow pilsner glass. Flavor profile: grass, flowers, grain, and bread.
3. Cantillon Iris 2007, Brouwerij Cantillon
This is a Belgian sour beer from one of the most revered breweries in the world. It's incredibly hard to get, especially on draft. Not only that, but Abbot's is serving it from a five year old keg so it has some age on it. The beer is served in a champagne-style flute. Flavor profile: Lemon, grapefruit and hay.