Beneath decorative surfboards and hanging tropical plants, plates of Angus burgers and pub fare emerge from Duke's kitchen as glasses overflow with cocktails and brews. Cavalcades of nachos and chicken wings prance across platters and the menu's five varieties of hand-packed ground Angus chuck burgers lounge on hawaiian and sourdough rolls beside entourages of seasoned fries. At the full bar, bartenders decant 12 draft beers and reminisce with patrons about last year's most impressive spit take. Booths, tabletops, and bar seating cushion guests amid Hawaiian artwork and a colorful mosaic while pool tables and televisions arouse revelry. A lineup of DJs, karaoke, and live acoustic and reggae nights comprise the bar's weekly entertainment.
A small flight of stairs leads guests down into a rustically decorated room, which evokes the ambiance of a subterranean wine cellar with its earthen arches, barrel-lined walls, and soft chandelier lighting. Designed by the artisans who created Disneyland's Pirates of the Caribbean, the dining room appeals to a similarly nostalgic whimsy. However, the cooks slightly modernize the menu's historic European roots by introducing unexpected ingredients.
The chefs elevate simple grilled-cheese sandwiches by slipping in braised short ribs, caramelized shallots, and horseradish cream alongside the gruyere and monterey jack cheeses, and a splash of cognac adds even more richness to the silken lobster bisque. Thai barbecue-glazed tofu and basmati rice also help to distinguish the menu by lending it a distinctly international flare.
Staying true to its name, The Cellar proudly features a 1,400-bottle wine list, which, according to the staff, helped to garner the restaurant Wine Spectator's exclusive Grand Award. The selection includes familiar staples, boutique producers, and rare vintages from virtually every major wine-producing region except the Marianas Trench.
Originally the location of San Clemente's jailhouse and fire station, the retro-modern Blue Danube dishes out flame-cooked steaks, seafood, and European specialties in a renovated space that maintains original jail cells for private parties. Blend the best of surf 'n' turf with the bacon-wrapped-shrimp appetizer ($8), or beam taste buds to Budapest with the goulash soup, a substantial stew that balances meat and vegetables on its nose and twirls flavors on its fingertips ($6). Butter-drizzled shrimp scampi entertains the tongue with sizzle, snap, and a capella sea shanties ($15), and the flame-kissed pepper steak ($21) and the wiener schnitzel ($15 and up) waltz with appetites to the tune of the restaurant's namesake. The plump pillows of apple or cheese strudel may inspire overjoyed strangers to spontaneously wed in Blue Danube's in-house chapel ($5).
When the chefs at Italian Cravings Irvine created their menu of Italian favorites, they decided not to be too fastidious with their recipes. So in addition to their traditional Italian recipes, they also created fusion dishes using the flavors and ingredients of other cuisines. Plates of tender veal in a marsala wine sauce sit next to the chicken tequila—a bed of fettuccine topped with chicken, bell peppers, and cilantro, all drizzled in a tequila lime sauce. Alongside the Italian entrees, chef also toss pizzas with traditional and unusual ingredients, from pepperoni to barbecue chicken. They pair all of this with tall glasses of beer or wine, which help ensure that meals are long, jovial affairs—like marathons emceed by a standup comic.