Chic drinking, dining in small-town Corning, NY: The Cellar

Sometimes, “the perfect storm” is actually perfect. On my birthday, a storm slammed the East Coast, grounding planes out of New York and New Jersey. So, I got to spend an unexpected extra day in the Finger Lakes! There are several cool restaurants in the historic Gaffer District of Corning, but one of the most popular and sophisticated spots is The Cellar: it rightfully bills itself as a modern fusion restaurant/wine bar/martini bar. I was happy to be hosted to experience it!

The restaurant is only open for dinner. The lighting is lower and tables are high with stools. It’s the kind of place to bring a date or close friends.

The restaurant is known for its extensive list of wines by the glass and bottle, as well as innovative cocktails.

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I have friends who profess to “be getting into fusion” cuisine and in doing so, have purchased a certain kind of hot sauce or dressing. That’s sweet, but not quite authentic. The Cellar masters a number of culinary styles — mixing them, too — such as Italian, Mexican, Thai and Korean. The traditional ingredients and preparations are used, then modernized. It’s kind of how the great 20th century artists like Picasso mastered classical techniques before forging ahead. All of this is within a context of sourcing from local farmers and artisan food producers:

Jimmy Fahy – Corning, NY
Remembrance Farm – Trumansburg, NY
Evans Farmhouse Creamery- Norwich, NY
Finger Lakes Organics – Finger Lakes Area Farms

Firefly Farm – Hornby, NY
Stick & Stone Farm- Ithaca, NY
Lively Run Goat Dairy – Interlaken, NY
Champlain Valley Milling – Westport, NY
The Good Life Farm – Interlaken, NY
Thunder Mountain Foods – Bath, NY

Twin Brooks Maple – Dundee, NY

There are lots of tapas and sharing options — this seems to be a preferred style in Corning — along with some larger, individually served dishes. It’s cool to see the careful attention paid to everything. For instance, many restaurants that serve “local” cheese plates assume an overly caution, tourist clientele: mild and familiar rule the day. But as you can clearly see by the bustling local crowd at The Cellar, they know to step it up to a higher level.  On their cheese plate, there are unusual formats, flavors and aging:

Ithaca Raw Sharp Cheddar, Bearle Farm Organic Haymaker, Nettle Meadow Kunik Triple Cream, Lively Run Cayuga Blue, apricot chutney, caramel walnuts, seasonal pickle & fruit, house crackers
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I was super hungry. Even so, I’m glad my server steered me to the half portion of local pasturized pork ramen: it was huge! Plus, the pork belly was rich and very satisfying. You can tell it by the ingredients that it was made from authentic recipes: slow-roasted pork belly, pork shoulder, 45 minute egg, organic kale, pickled shiitakes, parsnips and Diakon radish, kimchi, house-made ramen noodles, nori sheet.
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So . . . it being my birthday, I liked the idea of a little pizzazz, a little attention going my way for dessert. Cellar S’mores are served “tableside campfire” style! They use  marshmallows made by local Poppleton bakery. This was a fun way to end the day.
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