photo credit: Jack Li
Cellar Door Provisions
In our dream universe, every restaurant would be like Cellar Door Provisions - friendly, laid-back, and only serving fantastic versions of whatever they feel like making that day. You never know exactly what’s going to be on the menu until you walk in, but just like the music they’re playing - from Destroyer to Anderson Paak - it’s somehow always exactly what we want at that moment.
Cellar Door Provisions is a bright and open cafe in Logan Square where you’ll see as many people working on their laptops during the day as sitting down for a full meal. It’s small but works for whatever you might need - meeting your boss for lunch, catching up with a friend, or working on your timely political screenplay about giant mutant tardigrades. In addition to the bottomless coffee that’s fueled the last 40 pages of your completely coherent masterpiece, there’s a selection of incredible pastries like chocolate croissants that are so flaky they should consider hiring someone to sweep the shards off the floor like a barbershop.
Along with the baked goods, there’s a full, rotating daytime menu where you’ll probably find an absurdly custardy quiche that’s a must-order for anyone who likes eggs and pie crusts, and wants to eat the center of that Venn diagram. You may or may not see a chewy mushroom cavatelli or BBQ-glazed carrots with a light ajo blanco, but there will be something that you didn’t know you needed - like when you go to Target for laundry detergent and leave with an air fryer.
At dinner this place transitions to table service and switches menus, but other than that, things don’t change too drastically - except more people are drinking natural wine. And instead of pastries, they’re eating a perfectly tender butcher’s steak topped with preserved sardines, or a piece of medium-rare salmon that you could slice through with a bent paper clip. This attention to detail makes it feel special enough for date night, while still being casual and quick enough for a dinner you’re dreading with your needy co-worker who wants to fill you in on the details of their cat’s hernia surgery.
The same way a public park can be a venue for a summer cookout, a gym for people without any hangups about working out in public, and a bathroom for your Labradoodle, Cellar Door Provisions can be a lot of things all at once. But when we leave having had the best dinner we’ve had in weeks in the same seat where we responded to work emails the day before, we’re just happy to live in a universe where this place exists.
The menu changes daily, but here’s an example of what you might find.
It’s impressive that this quiche stays in one piece on its trip from the kitchen to the table because it transforms into a delicious state of matter somewhere between a solid and a liquid the second you cut into it.
These carrots are glazed with a sweet BBQ sauce and served over a savory ajo blanco, a soup made from pecans and bread. And we’re very OK with them sneaking more of their delicious bread to us this way.
Crushed Fried Potatoes
These crispy potato discs with a spicy tomato sauce and cauliflower aioli are an excellent greasy counterpoint for your delicate pear tartine.
You’ll hope this perfectly al dente mushroom cavatelli is on the menu every time you come here. But it’s only available during the day, so plan accordingly.
A mix of savory golden beets, slightly-sweet (and purposely-underripe) persimmons, and salty white kimchi.
This perfectly tender, medium-rare piece of salmon has just enough acidity to cut through the rich bearnaise it’s served with.
The butcher’s steak at Cellar Door isn’t just good-for-a-cafe - it’s good enough to wish more restaurants in the city served a steak like this.
Spongey, sweet caneles, caramelized and flaky croissants, and dense kouignoù-amann are just some of the pastry highlights here. The options in the case vary, but you should get at least two if you come in during the day. Or five.