Monday, December 21, 2009

Casellula Wine & Cheese Bar

I had been hearing about Casellula from a friend of mine for months and months.  He has been going there for years. During the summer I met him late one night for a glass of wine and a cheese plate.  The cheese plate was the draw for me, delicious, interesting and unusual as each cheese was paired with something unique. Of course I wanted to go back with more friends.  Then one day I received an email from Groupon for Casellula and I bought one (I should have bought many as holiday gifts).  It took months to arrange but finally it all came together tonight and I met two of my foodie friends who I love going out with.
I arrived first and after looking at the wine list ordered a lovely Riesling by the glass.  It was delicious with high acidity, an air of floral aromas, and wonderful minerality. The Selbach "Fish Label" Riesling Kabinett from the Mosel-Saar-Ruwer, Germany, $44 a bottle and $11 for a glass. Casellula has a very nice selection of wines by the glass with between 6-8 choices of each, sparkling, white, red and 3 roses, in addition to a good selection by the bottle.

Then I perused the cheese list which is a wonderful compilation from the US and Europe.  I counted a list of 40+ cheeses to choose from at $6 a piece.  Each cheese comes with a unique pairing that can be either sweet or savory and for the most part they are spot on.  I chose 3 and ordered 4. The Rivers Edge Farm Up in Smoke from Oregon is a smoked goat cheese wrapped in maple leaves, served with bacon and a maple syrup reduction was outstanding.  The Willow Hill Farm Summertomme from Vermont is an herby creamy sheep served with a burnt fig puree (just a figure of speech) it had just the right edge to go with the sheep.  The Banon De Chalais from France is a nutty cow cheese wrapped in chestnut leaves was served with a while chocolate cherry fudge- went so well, I never would have thought to pair it like that.  Last was another cheese from France that I let the waitress choose for us.  I do not remember what she called it but it was a firm cheese served with a roasted garlic puree so just ask for that one.  The cheese was the perfect back drop for the garlic.

When my friends arrived in addition to the cheese, we ordered a small plate of 3 meats for $10 the Chistorras and the Chorizo were good but .... the Speck  was very very tasty.  The chicken wings adobo which are not your typical wings came with a smokey blue cheese biscuit that was like saw dust.  The wings were good but again nothing memorable.  The house gave us an interesting dish of mozzarella and roasted peppers wrapped in bacon, it was good but not my favorite thing.  I think we should have gone for the Pig's Ass Sandwich and or the Braised Shortys which I saw while I was waiting.  Ah, there's always next time!!!!

And then there was the delicious and creamy chicken liver pate which was covered with house made creme fraiche and served with a persimmon-kumquat marmalade . Yes my friends this is the second well maybe thrid time I've enjoyed chicken liver pate. I still don't think it's something I will ever order left on my own, but if someone else orders it I will try it and if it's good you can bet I'll be spreading some on my bread!
Casellula is a small space and they get busy and loud.  You can stake your claim at the bar but if you want a table they won't seat you until everyone in your party has arrived.  Come early or very late because by 7pm you could wait for a table.  We were supposed to meet at 6:30 but my companions showed up at 6:45 luckily I claimed the three stools in the window because we would have waited an hour to sit at a table.  Keep in mind it gets very loud and with the exposed brick walls, sitting right next to each other can still be hard to hear. The crowd looked like your after work and neighborhood folks and varied from your 20 somethings to your 50+somethings.

The bill came to $94 for the 3 of us.  It's definitely on the pricey side (good thing I had that groupon) and the portions are small.  Though they did pour a good full glass of wine and I didn't want anything else to eat.  I've read lots of negative things about the staff and I will say this... I was greeted by a friendly woman behind the bar.  She took my name and put me on the list for a table. When I engaged someone they smiled and happily answered my questions. Other than that they left me alone other than taking my order and bringing the check when we requested it.  Maybe they've grown up or become more friendly.  In fact it seemed to me they were trying to be as non intrusive as possible. 

It's a little out of the way unless you're going to be in the theater district, being just west of 9th Avenue. It's pricey but at some point I'm sure I'll go again.  It's definitely worth checking out, if just for a glass of wine (not sure if they do 1/2 a glass) it depends where you're coming from or going to. 


401 West 52nd
Just West of 9th Ave.

5pm - 2am
No reservations.  CC Accepted

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