Friday, August 7, 2009

Cellar Door, Downtown Frederick

Cellar Door Restaurant

102 North Market Street

Frederick, MD 21701

301 695-8460

Dining Diva’s Grade for the Cellar Door: C .

Hanging around one early evening, thinking about dinner, and thinking about how I really didn’t want to actually get up and make dinner, I decided to log on to and see if anything good popped up. Hmm..there were all the regulars: Bushwallers, Liberty Road (no AYCE crabs though), Barley & Hops, Houlihans…same old same old.. Oh – but look! A surprise – Richard Belle’s new restaurant The Cellar Door is on the site. Bingo. .

The Cellar Door is appropriately named – basically there’s a Door on Market Street through which you enter. The lovely young lady stationed at the entrance escorted us down a flight of stairs that could best be described as stark. It kind of reminded me of the old Brown Pelican – remember how you had to descend a few stairs and then you emerged in a dark yet somehow cozy room? Well, it was kind of like that. We descended some dingy stairs and were pleasantly greeted with a dining room that was warmly lit and inviting. Nice.

Enough about the décor. Let’s talk about the food.

First, the appetizer - a $12.50 crab dip. If you like cream cheese and sour cream and some spice – then you are in luck. This dip had a preponderance of each. Personally, I like to actually find CRAB in my crab dip. In this case, the promised lump crabmeat was more of a passing notion rather than an integral component of the dish. Kind of like the vermouth in a James Bond’s martini…A hint, a suggestion, a wink. Listen, if the dish description says that it has Jumbo crab meat, than dag nab it make sure there are some actual hunks of crab somewhere in the bowl. On a positive note – it was nice and hot. Hot, melty, cream cheese and sour cream. Don’t get me wrong – I like hot cream cheese as much as the next college student – just not for $12.50, and not when I’m promised jumbo crab! With more crab in it, this could have been a winner.

Next up…Caesar Salad. Hmm… I guess if you figure that Caesar was an Italian guy and you figure it’s ok to substitute Italian dressing for Caesar…then I suppose it was a Caesar Salad. But if you think, as I do, that Caesar dressing is made from eggs, EVOO, worcestershire, parmesan and anchovies – well then, you would have been disappointed in the Cellar Door’s version. A basic green salad with vinaigrette. Grade: D

Scallops were listed as one of the evenings specials. Salivating, salivating - Love those creamy, rich, Diver scallops that taste as sweet as perfect summercorn. Before ordering though, I needed to make sure that these wouldn’t be those fat wet blobs soaked with preservatives and additives that prolong life and diminish flavor. I think I surprised the server with my question, as he had no idea what the difference between regular and diver scallops was. That’s OK – my kids wouldn’t know the difference either. I just wanted him to find out from the chef which they were. Bummer. Wet processed scallops.

All of us ordered some version of the filet. Voracious teenage boy ordered meat and nothing but meat. Voracious middle-aged man ordered meat and nothing but meat. Teenage girl and your very own Diva chose Surf & Turf – which was a juicy filet nestled alongside a crabcake.

The first thing we all tasted was salt. Salt salt salt salt salt. Now, I know that the quantity of salt consumed is a matter of personal taste. And, I personally enjoy a hefty dose of salt. But this was like the dead sea. Teenage boy thought the salt enhanced the flavor. Adults felt a bit of scraping was in order.

Lest you think all I do is complain – here’s a compliment…Salt notwithstanding, the filet was beautiful. Seared and cooked just as ordered, it was tender and juicy. Voracious teenage boy consumed entire meal in 3 minutes. Voracious middle-aged man kept pace. Dainty teenage girl and voracious middle-aged woman quickly followed suit with their filet/crabcake combo.

And, happy happy, the crab cake was stuffed with crab. Plump and round and delicious. The chef definitely did a better job with the main course than with the starters.

Would we go back to the Cellar Door? You betcha. We will just be mindful of the chef’s strengths and ask for a bit of restraint with the salt.


Greg Fiumara said...

Glad your main course was somewhat better than the rest, though the salad and appetizer probably would have knocked my overall letter grade down some more. Thanks for the review!

Deb said...

Hi Diva,

Thought you'd like to know that you can pick up $50 gift cards for $25 for the Cellar Dollar at (NBC25 TV in Hagerstown)
Click on the "fun for less" and select fine dining. My brother found this site a couple of months ago and we've used it several times already. It's a great deal.


Monica Pileggi said...

My husband and I ate here about a month ago. We enjoyed the food very much but the place was too dark! We enjoy a cozy, warm atmosphere, but really, it was too dark to see our food. We talked to the owner and made a suggestion for better lighting, especially at the table we sat at.