Being one of this year's Eat Up Downtown participants that a) we have wanted to experience for quite a while, and b) would have cost more for a one-course meal under normal circumstances than the $25 prix fixe for 3 courses, the Wine Cellar was an easy answer to the "which one of these places should we try?" question.
Warning, this establishment is swank. This means you should wash yourself thoroughly and dress in your best funeral attire or you may be promptly escorted from the premises. We also studied the limited special menu beforehand to limit the amount of confusion we exhibited at the scene (an effort which was nullified upon being handed the wine list).
The decor is elegant, the lights are low, the prices are lofty, and the staff are composed (except the incident involving a waiter complaining loudly to a coworker about being stiffed by some patrons which resulted in gratuity being automatically added to our bill as a preventative measure). Despite prior intentions, we decided not to get any wine because neither of us were feeling particularly suited to imbibe any intoxicants at the time but they certainly have an incredible selection.
Our appetizers were both delicious and, as can be expected in such an elegant establishment, well presented. My "Poached Shrimp With Goat Cheese and Arugula-Pumpkin Seed Pesto" looked more like a piece of abstract art than an appetizer but, despite the small portion, it was very satisfying. The mushroom soup was also quite lovely.
For the main course I had the "Baked Mountain Trout Stuffed With Spinach & Artichokes, Served Over Wild Rice, Finished With Pearl Onion Sauce" and my wife enjoyed the "Slow Braised Beef Short Ribs with Mushroom Ragout Served Over Potatoes, Finished with Cabernet and Rosemary Jus". Based on our meals, I would hazard to hypothesize that there is a direct correlation between the verbosity of a dish's name and how delicious it is. Regardless of the veracity of my postulate, my food was incredible. Whereas many cuisines I enjoy employ rather strong and striking spices or ingredients in their dishes, the French style exhibited here takes a more subtle approach to taste. Bold but not overpowering flavors accented by subtle notes and with everything cooked to perfection.
Dessert is something I typically skip as most confections are far too sugary for my tastes. My "Chocolate Truffle Torte With Chambord Raspberry Sauce" was incredible for the first few bites but, as I was a bit overstuffed from the rest of the meal, the richness stopped me from finishing. The "Strawberry-Red Wine Sorbet and Vanilla Ice Cream Lightly Drizzled with Balsamic Vinegar, Topped with Whipped Cream and Crushed Meringue" was as delightful as its name is long but, again, a bit too much for us to finish.
Food lovers, couples participating in courtship rituals, and individuals with plenty of disposable income, this is the place for you. The lovely atmosphere and sublime food made for a wonderful evening out in the midst of the tropical storm.
1314 Prudential Dr
Jacksonville, FL 32207