Like unemployed college graduates, young wines are commonly locked away in cellars until they abandon their acid tones and become both mature and rich. Witness wine's transition to adulthood with today's Groupon to The Cellar in Fullerton. Choose between two options:
• For $50, you get dinner for two including one appetizer, two entrees, and two glasses of house wine (up to a $106 total value).
• For $95, you get dinner for four including two appetizers, four entrees, and four glasses of house wine (up to a $212 total value).
Nestled beneath the famous Villa del Sol hotel, the chandelier-lit, cavernous arches of The Cellar tower above clientele cleaning their plates of a variety of light French cuisine. A buffalo tartar appetizer ($14 value) reclines in a shallot and caper relish alongside a fried quail egg, and a char-grilled Australian lamb rack ($34 value) wades through hip-deep, celery-root puree, searching for the headwaters of a vegetable torrent. White sea bass ($32 value) rests contentedly in a bed of fennel roasted potatoes and baby summer squash, having finally escaped the ocean's wily octopi and obsequious Jabberjaws. Guests may ease down entrees with a glass of refreshing house wine ($10 value/glass).
Business casual attire is required.
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.