In late July, Christian Albertson and Nat Cutler, the craft beer-enthusiasts who brought The Monk's Kettle to the Mission, opened The Abbot's Cellar. Nestled between Craftsman & Wolves and the soon-to-be Dandelion Chocolate, it sits on a block of Valencia street that is home to some of the city's most anticipated Summer openings. With chef Adam Dulye focusing more on beer pairings and seasonal tasting menus than gastropub fare, the restaurant appears to be the more sophisticated, bigger sister to Monk's, with over 100 seats and an open kitchen. Will the team's craft beer fan club transition smoothly from gastropub to finer-dining? Let's take a look at what the early critics, bloggers, Yelpers and commenters are saying, below:
The Beer News: SFBG critic Virginia Miller said, "A temple dedicated to beer, the Cellar succeeds immediately," as the "the volume lists more than 120 rotating beers" including "ten offerings in a by-the-glass selection from large beer bottles rarely available by the pour." On the down side, Yelper A.K. finds "the prices higher than any other beer bar I've been to outside of Scandinavia."
The Vibe News: "The Lundberg Design (Moss Room, Quince, Slanted Door) space immediately impresses with 24-foot ceilings illuminated by skylights, and a long, 3000-square-foot dining room marked by reclaimed woods for a rustic, urban barn feel," says SFBG's Miller. While the vibe confuses Yelper A.K., "Hard to figure what vibe they are trying for: Upscale beer parlor? Range-type restaurant with good beer? Just a place to be seen?," Grubstreet's Jay Barmann clears it up: "Basically, it's not your grandad's beer hall, and has much more in common with the rest of higher-end dining trends around the Mission than it does with, say, Zeitgeist."
The A La Carte News: "The menu highlights game and game birds, writes Serious Eats' Maggie Hoffman. "There's usually quail or pheasant, and bison is often featured." Though Miller wasn't a fan of the pheasant, saying it was "too dry," she found the pork chop "insanely juicy and satisfying over chewy caraway spaetzle, topped with grilled peaches." Yelper Matt G. leaves a mere two stars and laments, "Honestly, nothing was particular memorable, and I'd rather have a burger at Monk's Kettle. The portion sizes are small, as others have mentioned."
The Bone Marrow News: In between meals, Bauer describes the bone marrow dish as resembling "a prehistoric landscape, what with the big bone in the middle, surrounded by the feathery greens, mustard seeds and the house-made pastrami." Miller at SFBG chimes in saying it has the "wow factor," and is " one of the more exciting of countless bone marrow dishes I've had." On the flipside, Yelper Amy D. was disappointed by the dish, and said, "For the price, there wasn't much marrow, and I would have preferred more toast to eat with the marrow."
The Tasting Menu News: Tasting Table recommends "listening to the waiter's pairing suggestions, many of which come from Dulye, or ordering the three-course tasting menu with beer for $60." SFBG's Miller observes that the three course and five course menus with pairing "are well-crafted and artful." Foursquare user Chris M. suggests the "menu is not vegetarian friendly on the surface, but ask for a prix fixe vegetarian menu and they'll put together an amazing paired meal for you!" Serious Eats commenter Larley adds, "I've gone twice already with two entirely different tasting menus, and each time it's been fantastic. It's totally on par with the monthly beer dinners they host at The Monk's Kettle."
The Dessert News: John B. on Foursquare said, "The sticky toffee pudding is a must. It's like a bread pudding, but coated with melted toffee, and I could eat a 4x4 ft. pan of it." Also a fan of the pudding, Anne. L on Yelp said, "The bread pudding was possibly one of the best desserts I've ever had. So freaking amazing, I can't believe I actually got dessert." Lastly, Miller finishes her review on a sweet note, and said, "A dessert of warm, roasted parsnip cake ($9), co-mingling with whipped cream cheese and a ginger molasses cookie, is a homey highlight, lovely with the coffee-almond malt of Great Divide's Yeti Imperial Stout."
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· All The Abbot's Cellar Coverage [~ ESF ~]