The single small room making up The Cellars sits beside colorful and upscale Eagle City Market like a side dish to an entrée. A large roll-down doorway joins the two establishments, cementing in the minds of diners just how porous the line is between emporium and eatery. The Cellars' menu backs up this conclusion, as it emphasizes simplicity and quality of ingredients over complex chef presentations. All entrees come with the same sides—mashed potatoes and steamed summer veggies—and free-thinking flesh-eaters are even given the unique opportunity to choose a cut of their choice from the Market's Meat Shoppe as a main course.
My famished party of three entered through the market-side on a weekday evening, hoping the total lack of other diners would ensure quick and attentive service from the meager staff. Attentive yes, but as for quick, suffice it to say, I'm hesitant to test my luck when there are 30 customers present rather than three. However, given our mountainous entrées provided an additional breakfast and part of a lunch's worth of leftovers, the complaint proved to be minor.
A glass of Australian wine from The Cellars' comprehensive beer and wine list (a specialty grocery store had better have a good list!) and a cup of cioppino (tomato-based seafood chowder) opened the gastronomic cavalcade to rave reviews. The Cellars' cioppino is an excellent bread-soaker—rich, spicy and very clammy, with occasional mussels and shrimp lurking in its depths. The grilled portabella pizza, served with roasted garlic and fresh Havarti cheese on a light bread crust atop (oddly enough) a bed of raw spinach was both gooey and tasty, as the mustiness of the mushrooms perfectly complemented the Havarti's slight bitterness. The Cellars' peppered calamari was the star of the appetizer menu, providing a rather unique take on this often mailed-in dish. The batter was very light, the squid firm and the chunks of black pepper bold and plentiful. I also thought I tasted strong undertones of garlic somewhere in the mix, but the flavor didn't overpower my buds.
For entrées, the vegetarian of the party found a dearth of options and was forced toward the standbys of salad and bread. I selected the double-cut grilled pork chop stuffed with bacon, horseradish and raisins in a sweet merlot reduction, and was again amazed by the generosity of the portion. The first yard of the chop was horseradish-heavy to the exclusion of the other flavors, but the second and third yards were perfect.
The third member of our party chose the aforementioned "pick a steak, any steak" option and we wandered over to the Market's Aurora Custom Meat Shoppe to peruse a selection of flesh that puts even their wine list to shame. The Cellars allows meaties to go as high- or low-rent as they wish, from affordable skirt steak rounds to mortgage-worthy air-dried filet mignon. We selected somewhere in the middle, spying an organic London broil that looked as if it had come from a bull elephant. Grilled to a perfect medium-rare with a straightforward peppercorn crust, this beautiful broil has haunted my dreams for days since. Like the rest of The Cellars' offerings, the infusing of such a simple formula with quality ingredients made our trip one well worth repeating.
—Nicholas Collias doesn't read too much into his steak-filled dreams.