San Diego/ Food & Drinks
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Published on May 21, 2024
New Culinary Destination 'Cellar Hand' Set to Open in Hillcrest by Pali Wine Co-OwnersSource: Google Street View

Hillcrest, San Diego, is about to experience a culinary evolution as the Pali Wine family brings their expertise aboveground by opening a new eatery, Cellar Hand. Slated to open its doors on June 6, according to an Eater San Diego report, this venture by co-owners Nick and Carmen Perr alongside executive chef Logan Kendall is shaping up to be a hotspot for gourmands with a penchant for seasonal, locally sourced fare.

The Perrs, known for Pali Wine in Little Italy, have forged strong relationships with 26 local farmers to craft a menu that spotlight coastal Californian and Mediterranean influences. Iconic suppliers like Chino Farms and Hukama Produce ensure that the restaurant's plates will be brimming with fresh produce. Seafood is spotlighted too, with partnerships featuring famed fishmonger Tommy Gomes, and selections like grilled whole rockfish and Baja scallop crudo are set to tantalize taste buds. The menu also boasts conserved dishes such as line-caught sardines with kumquats, according to the co-owners in a statement obtained by Eater San Diego.

Fermentation isn't just for the wine at Cellar Hand; it's a cornerstone of the restaurant's culinary philosophy. A dedicated fermentation chef is part of the roster, signaling a deep connection with the founders' winemaking background. Nick Perr told Eater San Diego, "We come from a background in wines, and wine is all about fermentation. It makes sense we use the process in our kitchen." For instance, the pita accompanying the dips like labneh and Chino Farms tomato matbucha goes through a 24-hour fermentation process.

A blend of relaxed ambiance and craft, the 60-seat Cellar Hand spans 960 square feet inside, with a 1,100-square-foot patio adjoining, complete with fire pits for that quintessential SoCal dining experience. Local firm Tecscape Design and artist Nick Perr have infused the space with an artistic touch. And as the wine roots suggest, the restaurant will also cater to wine enthusiasts with events like winemaker dinners and tastings, Nick Perr tells Eater. The establishment is not just a one-trick pony, with ambitions for more ventures like an inn on a small farm or another restaurant project that digs even deeper into the hyperlocal scene.

For those eager to get in on the ground floor of this ambitious project, Cellar Hand has put out a hiring call on their Instagram page, with open interviews set for October 25th and 26th. As highlighted on their Instagram post, they're looking for a range of staff from servers to line cooks, offering wages from $16.85 to $23 an hour. The spot insists on making your application through their careers page or by just walking in during interview hours. It's a chance to be part of what could be San Diego's next gastronomic gem.