Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The Cellar

Published January, 2010 in the Post Register.
At The Cellar, it’s all about the s-l-o-w.

That doesn’t mean you can’t get a quick meal, but the whole idea behind dining at The Cellar is that it’s intended to be a leisurely experience.

“I’m more into dining than filling a gas tank,” says founder and owner Scott Hinschberger. “Most of the world’s decisions that have shaped history have been made at the dining table.”

Despite its name, The Cellar isn’t necessarily about wine, either.

“We get a lot of non-drinkers. I don’t emphasize wine so much unless you happen to like wine. I emphasize the slow dining experience. We have quite a few people who come in who enjoy the food and the music and the ambience who don’t need to enjoy the wine.”

The name, in fact, is more out of respect for a restaurant of the same name that Hinschberger frequented as a youth.

If you are a wine drinker, however, the Cellar is your kind of place. It’s the only restaurant in eastern Idaho to win Wine Spectator magazine’s Award of Excellence two years running. Hinschberger’s two sons, Bryan and Paul, are both certified sommeliers, as is the restaurant’s operations manager, Bart Day. The Cellar has a vast selection of beverages, from wine to cocktails to non-alcoholic sparkling drinks.

He likes to keep the menu diverse and changing, emphasizing local produce as much as possible. He also likes to throw in a little wild game as much as possible, from ostrich and alligator to wild boar and kangaroo.

The venue is a house originally built in 1906 and updated in 1956 and 1965. There’s live music most weekends, including Hinschberger and his son, Bryan, who play monthly. Bryan Hinschberger is the Cellar’s general manager. His brother, Paul, helps at the restaurant and conducts wine classes with Bryan when he’s not actually at a winery in Washington, California or elsewhere learning the craft of winemaking.

Scott Hinschberger has a degree in geology and spent the early part of his career in New England looking for a possible nuclear waste repository site. His current day job is personnel specialist with the Department of Energy. He and his wife, Michelle, are at the restaurant most evenings.

Despite the challenges of running a restaurant in dicey economic times, Hinschberger has no regrets.

“I would say that this has been the finest experience I’ve ever had in my life. It’s also been one of the most trying things I’ve ever had in my life. I’ve met people and gotten to know people that are so much fun to be around.”

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