The Cellar Pub (Benecia)

The Cellar Pub & Grub – brunch
685 Stone Rd. #1, Benicia, CA
Review Date: September 2021
This establishment has been located in an industrial park in Benicia since 2018, but recently changed hands. The new owners kept the old name, but changed the format from a lunchtime diner to a more creative gastropub. Michael (Mikey) Robertson is one of three owners, and is also the chef. Classically trained at Le Cordon Bleu, he and co-owners Jenn Heitz and Dave Williams are well-known in Benicia’s restaurant scene.

We carpooled over with our friends, who live in nearby Vallejo. The Cellar is hidden in one of those anonymous industrial parks, similar to Papaito/Hayward. Thanks to the pandemic, it’s easier to find The Cellar – look for the tops of the two white tents erected for outdoor dining space.

We sat inside, where the seating is fairly limited, but with the nice weather most were seated outdoors. This is a casual place, with cheerful and friendly service. The brunch menu adds a few breakfast items to the more limited regular lunch menu – dinner is where the really interesting dishes show up.

Peach Salad: watercress, blue cheese, shaved almonds, balsamic, olive oil.
We are watercress lovers, and loved everything in this salad. Note the salads are sized a bit on the generous side, so next time we’d probably split one. They’re not humongous, but we ended up doing a multi-course meal, so we were unable to finish our mains.

Snake River Farms Cheeseburger, Cellar fries.
Snake River Farms is one of the better quality beef and pork producers in the U.S. Based in Boise, ID, their American Wagyu is the type of beef I prefer – the old-style marbling with the richer, “beefier” flavor that most steak lovers in the U.S. like. Cellar has a high-heat griddle set-up, as the patties come out with an amazing crust. The patty fits the bun, which is one of my personal requirements, and the bun doesn’t fall apart despite the meat juices.

All three of us chose the burger. The cheese is Gruyere, which also scores points with us as we go through a pound or two of Gruyere every month. It’s an excellent burger, beefy and satisfying. It comes already assembled with lettuce, tomato, and a slice of red onion. After the salads, we had to get boxes as each of us only finished half our burger.

If you like steak fries, you’ll enjoy Cellar’s unusual cutting technique. Think curlicue fries, but shorter and thicker. It’s almost as if they’re cut with an auger bit. They go very well with either ketchup (automatically supplied) or the seasoned aioli (optional), which is also spread on the buns.

French Toast, Custard Style.
All of us love French toast when it’s well-soaked in custard. We asked that this come last, for the table to share. It worked out perfectly, as it comes as a large thick slice, cut in half. Spouse and I shared one half, and our friend took the other half.

Cellar slices their toast even thicker than I do – almost two inches thick. The waitress referred to it as ‘bread pudding’, except that bread pudding in the SFBA is usually as heavy and non-custardy as a rock. This was the way bread pudding should be, delicate and soft; but almost never is. The only difference is that French Toast is fried (or baked) on both sides. At The Cellar, the outside is well-browned, but the interior is a perfect delicate custard. It was fabulous, and won a unanimous thumbs-up from our table. A light caramel sauce is offset by whole tart-sweet berries – lingonberries? cranberries? - and plumped raisins.

The ice tea is brewed in-house, and the coffee, which was freshly brewed with good quality beans, was very good.

We liked The Cellar very much. It’s a good solid lunch spot, and someday we hope to have the opportunity to try dinner here as well. The ingredients are excellent quality, the portions are good-sized, and service was good.

We should mention the restaurant seemed short-handed for a Sunday brunch, even as isolated a location as this is. Our waitress Jennifer was very pleasant, but as more tables filled up, service suffered a bit. It wasn’t a crush, but about half the seats were full.

We wouldn’t call this a destination restaurant – not until we’ve had the chance to try dinner – but if you’re in the area, we wouldn’t hesitate to recommend The Cellar as a good place to have a meal, or share one with friends.

Three people, lunch: three salads, two burgers (a third was comped, at $18), one main, three beverages. With tax but without tip, $115.


Yay! Solano County! Great review.