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Logan Square's Cellar Door Provisions Totally Rocked Its First Dinner Service

By Anthony Todd in Food on Feb 15, 2017 4:44PM

The exterior of Cellar Door Provisions. Photo via Facebook.

I reported last month that Cellar Door Provisions, the twee Logan Square spot known for interesting brunch dishes and amazing breads, was going to start serving dinner. So of course, I made reservations immediately, and I scored one for last Friday, the first night of dinner service.

Normally, of course, I wouldn't review a restaurant's first night. Maybe week three at the earliest is fair game, but a first night is exactly when everything traditionally goes wrong in restaurant land. Even for a restaurant that's been open for years, multi-course dinner service is a completely different beast than brunch. So, I didn't plan to cover it—just to visit, check things out, and wish everyone at CDP well. Except it was so great I can't keep my mouth shut.

The menu at CDP. Photo by Anthony Todd.

Dinner at Cellar Door is prix fixe, with one set menu offered on any given night. The price will vary between $38 and $48, it's BYOB, and you'll never know what you're getting until you show up. The menu is handwritten on slips of butcher paper, and has very little information on it: all I got was "Sunchoke Chawanmushi, Turnip Veloute, Dumpling in Broth, Ice Cream Float." Not super inspiring if you're a fan of evocative menu prose, but you have to trust them.

The dinner started with an board filled with snacks not mentioned on the menu. There were two kinds of CDP's famous bread, some fermented potato chips, farmers cheese, butter, and pickled beets, mushrooms and carrots. It was a perfect, light start to the meal, and the tangy farmer's cheese and spicy mushrooms were memorably good (I could have done without the not-very-flavorful carrots). The beets, as my date informed me to my embarrassment, actually caused me to raise my shoulders in shock—their funky, awesome tang was enough to give me a start.

The snack board at CDP. Photo by Anthony Todd.

"Funky," in fact, is the word that shows up in my notes on every dish. The sunchoke chawanmushi (which, actually, wasn't much like a chawanmushi but felt more inspired by tempura) was tender but kept the signature odd, bitter taste of the vegetable intact, complimented by a vegetal hint from the accompanying greens. The turnip veloute smothered sweet and sour onions and was topped with pork fat (servers instructed us to stir it into the dish) which gave the veloute both a richness and, yes, a little bit of funk that elevated the dish well above your average turnip soup.

Dumpling in Broth. Photo by Anthony Todd.

The main course, "Dumpling in Broth," turned out to be a chicken gyoza, filled with such a rich, savory filing that I wouldn't have guess it was chicken unless I'd been told in advance. Big chunks of black peppercorn gave the dish heat, while the scrumptious broth made it a perfect choice for a Friday night in February. Simple, honest, delicious.

Dessert! Photo by Anthony Todd.

I'll be frank: I'd had a bit of wine by this point in the meal, and my notes on the dessert are shaky, but, I hope, reassuring. I'll just transcribe them verbatim: "Green peppercorn ice cream holy f*ck I have no clue exactly what this is but I want 10 of them to eat forever." So, yeah.

One visit, especially on the first night, may not be representative of CDP's future dinner efforts. However, given the quality of the food and the price (our five-course meal for two people was less than $100), I can absolutely recommend making reservations.

Cellar Door Provisions is located at 3025 W. Diversey Avenue. Reservations are available online.