Opened by the Monk’s Kettle team about 2 months ago in the heart of the Mission, The Abbot’s Cellar provides a seasonal menu meant to be paired with their extensive selection of beers. The beautiful steel, wood and stone decor is a far cry from the Jaguar repair shop that it used to be.
They do offer a 3- or 5-course tasting menu that can be paired with beers, but we opted to order dishes a la carte, and took our time to read through the beer list.
A nice surprise was an amuse bouche with a beer pairing brought to us by Owner-Cellarmaster Christian Albertson. The pickled green tomato crostini was topped with a tiny bouquet of bloomed fennel pollen flowers. The smokiness of the Helles made by the Aecht Schlenkerla German brewery paired with the crostini perfectly:
We decided to get some German pilsners to go with our meal. Weihenstephaner is the oldest continuous operating brewery in the world, having started in 1040. Owner-Chef Adam Dulye is serious about the beer pairing with the food, and their rare collection of cookbooks is propped up at the bar for some pleasant reading between bites and sips:
Monterey Bay Squid was featured in a tomato broth with seared monkfish pieces and roasted speck. The chopped bits of zucchini made it reminiscent of a very tasty upscale tomato-based chowder. Topped with cherry tomato halves and a zucchini flower, it looked as good as it tasted:
Smoked corn risotto with brown butter roasted chanterelle mushrooms was an excellent example of a summer to fall transition dish:
The bone marrow dish with rye croutons, mustard and mizuna greens will definitely bring us back. It was served with house-made pastrami in various forms: pulled, sliced and cubed (the latter two were hidden under the greens). Strangely enough, the upscale deli meat seemed to cut down the fattiness of the marrow. Dressed with whole grain mustard, it really did pair well with beer:
Our only complaint about the marrow dish was that it needed some vehicle for the marrow. The rye croutons weren’t quite enough, so we asked for some bread and a generous basket with butter appeared:
We switched over to drinking a Ballast Point Kölsch from San Diego to pair with the rest of our meal. We selected the seared Petrale Sole served with dungeness crab and sautéed baby spinach. The fish was perfectly pan-fried offering diffferent textures such as crunch along the sides and flaky in the middle. The fennel broth was nicely lemony in flavor and really completed the dish:
Their wine list is primarily domestic which made the international selection of beers that much more interesting for us. The servers seem to be very well trained about each of the different beers they have on the list and will provide recommendations if needed.
February 2014 Update: Abbot’s Cellar is now closed