You may recall that last year The Cellar was closed for a week and some pretty obvious renovations were made. The second bar was removed to make way for a large, adaptable booth and the back lounge was replaced with wine storage. Also the main – and now only – bar was lengthened. These changes were made specifically with customer satisfaction in mind. Business had increased to the point where a lounge was no longer working for us: we had more and more reservations coming in from people who wanted to sit down and eat dinner. “Last year we renovated the front [of the restaurant] to create more useful, useable space for customers,” Ellen told me. “This year, we are renovating the back to make it easier for staff to do their jobs, but that obviously affects customers as well.”
Last week, the dish room was totally overhauled. Everything was removed, a new floor was installed with a much longer life line attached to it, and brand new equipment has been set up, including…
*drum roll please*
A walk-in cooler!
It makes sense that our chefs would be excited about this new addition to The Cellar family, but I was curious about Michael’s reasons for it, considering that we’ve always seemed to manage just fine without a walk-in cooler. His response when I asked him why he wants a walk-in:
“Up the bread.”
Though it sounds vaguely like a Shakespearean insult, what Michael meant is that he wants to increase the amount of bread made in-house. When I asked him why, he went on to explain that he wants to “move away from manufactured yeast because it’s not as good for you as natural yeast.” Currently, most of the bread products are made by our kitchen staff, but some things (like the steamed buns) are not. Prior to last weeks’ renovation of the dish room, we just did not have the cold space needed in order to create and store a lot of bread products made in-house.
The science behind baking is truly fascinating, and Michael went on to explain more about it but honestly, though I was engrossed, I was also confused. So I googled “how does yeast work” and got this: “Yeast is the driving force behind fermentation, the magical process that allows a dense mass of dough to become a well-risen loaf of bread. And yet yeast is nothing more than a single-celled fungus. How does it do it? Yeast works by consuming sugar and excreting carbon dioxide and alcohol as byproducts.” (www.finecooking.com/articles/yeast-role-bread-baking) I encourage you to read more on your own about yeast. Or come in and ask Michael to explain it. (Spoiler alert: there are a lot of hand gestures.)
Mainly, I encourage you to stop in now that we have re-opened. Spring will be here soonish, and a new menu just might mean more bread!
*Here is a photo taken toward the end of the renovation process. The famed walk-in cooler is on the left.*