Cellar 36 is a small wine and tapas bar located in Chinatown owned and operated by the same folks behind The Ten Bells, which I love. Like Ten Bells, Cellar 36 offers a great happy hour deal that includes $20 carafes and $1 oysters. We went for it.
I definitely recommend this spot, and I’ll definitely be back!
I finally made it over to Ernesto’s! I’m happy this place is really close to home. Check out my Ride & Review video HERE first, and then read on below.
Firstly, the cocktails here are excellent! A bit pricey at $18, but worth it for the skill and flavors.
We tried a bunch of starters. Everything was excellent, but the stand-outs were the croquettes, the squid, the anchovies and the tripe.
They didn’t have the txuleta (vaca vieja) special on this trip, so we went with the rabbit rice and the blood sausage. Both were great, but we preferred the blood sausage out of the two. It was light and refreshing, which was a complete surprise to us. Blood sausage is usually so heavy!
For dessert we had flan and Basque style cheesecake. Between the two, the cheesecake was the winner.
I will definitely be back here to try the steak when they have it on special again.
The best way to get a feel for this restaurant is to watch my Ride & Review video on YouTube:
But for the traditionalists out there, here’s a breakdown of everything we had:
These were beautifully presented.
Seriously delicious and addictive. The outer shell is thin and crispy, and inside is a delicious explosion of high end Spanish ham and cheese.
Yes. With some creamy ricotta on the bottom, this really took the starters over the top.
4. Iberico Ham
This was some seriously high quality stuff. Melts in your mouth!
I really dig this spicy beef version of my favorite pasta style, cavatelli.
Probably one of the top three dishes of the night. The Iberico pork ragu was nuts!
3. Curry Lamb Bechamel Lasagna
This is a game changer! Make sure you get this. If you like cumin lamb szechuan noodles, you will love this Italian take on it.
This squid ink “pasta paella” was my favorite dish of the night. The squid was perfectly cooked, and the pasta was so tasty.
1. Iberico Pork Meatballs
This works as a shared starter too, but I could eat this every day. This is also top three of the meal.
2. Short Rib
So tender and flavorful. Ruben does a similar dish at his other restaurants and all of them are great.
3. Chicken Milanese
This could benefit from a slightly flatter pounding, but there was a sweetness to this from either apricot or honey that was incredible.
1. Whole Fish
Perfectly deboned and beautifully presented.
Save some sourdough bread to drag through the deeply flavorful sauce that comes with the perfectly cooked mussels.
These Spanish style garlic and spicy oil shrimp were absolutely perfect.
We had the broccolini with Romesco sauce. Even the veg here is off the charts good.
The radicchio salad was also really nice, with poached pears and walnuts.
I’ve said it before with Nai, Emilia and Amigo: Ruben deserves a Michelin star at his restaurants. Everything he puts out is delicious and innovative. He’s one of the city’s most under the radar chefs. So much talent! I highly recommend all four of his restaurants.
This high end tapas restaurant serves some of the best Spanish food I’ve had outside of Spain. Jose Andres really deserves all the praise he gets.
We started with some nice cocktails, which, in hindsight, I wish we had at the bar downstairs (Bar Mar), instead of at our table.
In any case, great cocktails!
For the smaller bites we tried, the stars were Jose’s Tacos (jamon with nori taco shell and caviar), and the tartare in a fried shiso leaf.
The Philly cheesesteak bites were nice too.
For medium sized courses, we had the Spanish octopus and fideua (paella made with pasta instead of rice). That squid ink sauce was outstanding, and it might have been the best dish of the entire trip to Chicago.
For our main, we had the 32oz aged domestic wagyu “chuleton” rib eye. It was slightly overcooked on the edges, and for being something like 100+ days dry aged, I didn’t get much of that flavor. It was really tender and tasty though. 8/10.
This came with a side of delicious whipped potatoes. So smooth.
For dessert, we had their delicious honey cake with grapefruit sorbet. They even stenciled the words “Happy Birthday” onto the plate for us.
A very pricey meal, but delicious!
20 N Upper Wacker Dr
Chicago, IL 60606
I popped into this joint with some friends mainly to try a domestic wagyu strip they recently put on the menu, but everything we had here was great. This place serves up smaller bites and tapas style dishes. Some of the highlights were the prawns, the potato cake with uni on top, the beef tartare and the stuffed chicken wings.
The star of the show was 24oz of 9/10 deliciousness. The “thrice cooked chips” that came with it were absolutely perfect.
The au poivre sauce really wasn’t needed, but both that and the roasted garlic really made the flavors pop.
For dessert, the mille feuille with cinnamon brown sugar cream was the big winner, but the mousse with granita and meringue was a nice way to cleanse the palate at the end of the meal.
This joint has two names and serves two types of cuisine: Manchego serves tapas, and Koko serves ramen. My wife and I tried a couple of items from each menu.
The octopus was awesome. Perfectly cooked, nicely seasoned.
The calamari was meh. A little dried out.
The ramen was pretty good. Not among the top tier, but good enough that if I was ever in the area again, I’d go back to try the tonkotsu. The main reason I tried their spicy chicken miso ramen was because the menu said their tonkotsu was also chicken based broth, but with char siu pork in it. I was confused, and didn’t feel like asking questions since the service was crazy slow (they were slammed).
The salmon ramen was light. It was a shio style chicken based broth.
MANCHEGO / KOKO RAMEN
375 Marlborough Rd
Brooklyn, NY 11226