The Abbot’s Cellar – A New Take on Beer and Food Pairing
From the beer gurus who brought The Monk’s Kettle to San Francisco’s Mission District comes an ambitious new restaurant that takes beer pairing and appreciation to the next level. The Abbot’s Cellar which opened recently is located in the heart of the buzzing “Valencia Corridor.” It offers a fine dining experience in a relaxed atmosphere, devoted to exploring the relationship of flavors between cuisine and beverage, with a focus on craft beer. As such, craft beer is treated with the care and respect it deserves – it is aged in a cellar, served at optimal temperatures, and poured into glassware that complements its style. Co-Owner and Cellarmaster Christian Albertson curates the 120-plus beer list to highlight food-friendly options, while Chef and Co-Owner Adam Dulye composes a daily seasonal menu designed to match Albertson’s selections.
With the opening of The Abbot’s Cellar, Dulye’s distinctive cuisine will draw guests who appreciate his partnerships with craft beer producers and his insistence on providing optimal flavor profiles to beer connoisseurs. “I always look for people to enjoy beer as much as they enjoy food,” says Dulye. “We want guests to come and explore pairings on their own, or let us guide them to the ideal beer and food pairing.” Prior to joining The Monk’s Kettle team as partner and chef in 2011, Dulye led several craft-beer-centric restaurants in Colorado and Portland, garnering the attention of beverage trade media and industry organizations. He continues to make his mark among the national craft beer community with his involvement as the Culinary Consultant for the Brewer’s Association, leading the culinary side of several events including SAVOR: An American Craft Beer and Food Experience, the Farm to Table Pavilion at the Great American Beer Festival, and the 2012 World Beer Cup Dinner.
Dulye will make a number of dishes in the restaurant’s stone oven, a prominent feature of the open kitchen. The Abbot’s Cellar will offer a daily changing à la carte menu with all dishes under $30 in addition to 3-course and 5-course prix fixe tasting menus, featuring a specific beer pairing to highlight complementary flavors. Prior to dinner, each guest will receive an amuse bouche with beer pairing to further illustrate the relationship between food and beer and set the stage for the evening. Menus highlights may include Chilled Turnip, hot smoked salmon, blackberries and coriander; Beef Bone Marrow, house pastrami, spicy greens, pickled mustard and rye; Braised White Sea Bass, poached potatoes, snap peas, carrot broth and clams; Dry Aged Strip Loin, spring onions, padron peppers, crispy hen of the woods; and Roasted Quail, green garlic sausage, apricots, spelt granola. Dessert highlights include Blackberry curd, cornmeal crumble and whipped sour cream; and Dark Chocolate Cheesecake, streusel crust, pistachio powder and cherry sauce.
When composing the menus for The Abbot’s Cellar, Dulye sits down for weekly tasting sessions with Albertson and Co-Beer Director and Cicerone Mike Reis. This collaboration is at the heart of the mission of The Abbot’s Cellar, and works in both directions. “Sometimes it will be me leading off with an ingredient I got at the market or from a rancher that’s about to come into season,” Dulye says. “Other times it will be us tasting through beers and determining what is ready to drink. Next we talk about flavor profiles, how they react on the palate, and how we imagine them playing off the beer. We decide what reaction we want the beer to have with the food, and vice versa, building the menu from there.”
The Abbot’s Cellar’s beer program will highlight more than 20 beers on draft—including two drawn from hand-pump cask engines—along with more than 100 bottled varieties of beer. Albertson and Reis will organize the list by taste profile in addition to beer styles, allowing the beer menu to act as a guide for guests looking for suggested food pairings. A unique feature will be the beer-by-the-glass program in which The Abbot’s Cellar will offer ten beers by-the-glass poured from 750 ml bottles to highlight those styles that show best in that format rather than draft. The only program of its kind in the country, the selection of 750 ml bottles will change daily, allowing guests the opportunity to experience beer that is generally not available by the glass. The wine program, led by Consultant Alex Finberg, will center on California varietals, offering a rotating list of twenty wines-by-the-glass as well as a selection of bottles, from approachable to vintage offerings.
A trademark feature of the restaurant, a two-story beer cellar, will store up to 500 cases of beer. In reflection of the philosophy behind the restaurant, all beer and wine will be served at its ideal temperature, be it 40 degrees for a lager like Mahr’s Kellerbier Ungespundet, 50 degrees for a Baltic Porter such as Sinebrychoff, or 55 degrees for a barleywine like 2004 Baladin Xyauyu. All beer will be carefully stored at the optimal cellar temperature of 55 degrees prior to serving.
Designed in partnership with Lundberg Design (The Moss Room, Quince, The Slanted Door), The Abbot’s Cellar’s aesthetic is both impressive and inviting, encompassing a former garage space remodeled as a functional and sophisticated environment. With the existing backdrop of exposed brick and soaring twenty-four foot ceilings, the team collaborated with Lundberg Design’s Project Manager Ryan Hughes to develop the space with the two-story stone-encased beer cellar, a brick hearth, and a chef’s counter. As its name implies, The Abbot’s Cellar team wanted to capture materials and textures of an Old World monastery, similar to that of sister restaurant, The Monk’s Kettle. The 3,000 square foot space will be enhanced with reclaimed barn wood flooring, Edison-bulb pendants, a warm-colored concrete bar, and several skylights bringing natural light into the restaurant.
The Abbot’s Cellar’s focus on beer is also emphasized with several design elements, starting with customized walnut tables featuring a pull out shelf to store the beverage lists. While the tables will store the beer menus, the chef’s counter will be backed by a reading shelf stacked with Dulye’s own collection of culinary and beverage cookbooks and resource books. A back-lit series of acrylic shelves will illuminate the collection of more than 40 types of specialty beer glassware behind the bar, creating a soft glow against the steel-clad wall. In addition, old beer bottles, salvaged from the restoration process, will be prominently displayed throughout the restaurant, illustrating the building’s history as a garage and the space’s landmark as the former Valencia Hotel, which sank into the ground following the 1906 earthquake.
The space will seat up to 100 guests with varied seating options such as window-side booths, cozy banquettes, communal tables, a sizeable bar, and a chef’s counter. The area adjacent to the beer cellar can also be configured as a semi-private dining space with seating up to 20.
For more information on The Abbot’s Cellar, please visit www.abbotscellar.com.