The Cellar

Special thanks to Macalister Mansion for extending this food review invitation.

Macalister Mansion is a colonial-era structure that has been standing magnificently for more than a hundred years. Located at Macalister Road (Jalan Macalister), this building has been renovated as a luxurious boutique hotel with 8 rooms on the upper floor. Macalister Mansion retains most of its original architecture to present guests with a feeling of classical nostalgia.
There are several restaurants in Macalister Mansion. The two main ones are Living Room and Dining Room; I had the privilege of covering the latter last year. Located between the two eateries is The Cellar. Located at the west wing, The Cellar is furnished with a climate-controlled wine cellar. Macalister Mansion maintains a collection of around 300 wines labels from all around the world.
Unlike the Living Room, The Cellar sets a dimmer tone to cater to nightlife clientele. Leather seats next to the mock fireplace allow customers to mingle around in a relaxing ambience. In addition, a private room next to the courtyard allows customers to wine and dine in a more secluded setting.
Macalister Mansion's Izakaya Weekends is held at The Cellar every Friday and Saturday between 7:00pm and 11:00pm. Similar to izakaya restaurants (居酒屋) in Japan, dishes are prepared in small portions as they are meant to go with alcohol.
At the Cellar, food is prepared at the bar in view of diners. But unlike traditional Japanese izakaya, the selections here are Western in nature. Food is presented in tapas portions to allow diners to sample a wider variety of delicacies throughout the evening. The 15 or so dishes are matched with an approximately same number of cocktails and shooters.
Iberico Pork, Soya, Sweetcorn (RM75.00) uses the shoulder of Iberian pig from Spain. The dark-skinned swine is prized for its exquisite, high quality meat. The pork is marinated with soy sauce, mirin, garlic oil, white pepper and thyme. Using sous-vide, the pork shoulder is cooked gently and uniformly.
The juicy slab of pork is cut into slices of half inch thickness, and then presented on a wooden serving tray. The accompanying ponzu (ポン酢) is based on soy sauce and reduced jus from the pork itself. Meanwhile, the natural sweetness of caramelized corn is combined with soy reduction to serve as counterbalance to savory Iberico pork.
As for seafood, the recommended dish is Salmon, Burnt Mayonnaise, Potato (RM60.00). Fresh salmon fillet is marinated in mayonnaise that was smoked with hickory and oak. Then, the fillet is torched on both sides until the mayonnaise coating caramelizes and turns brown.
Accompanying salmon fillet are several pieces of potato confit. Considering the unpleasant smokiness that comes with deep-frying, using potato confit is a more sensible choice. Finally, the salmon dish is garnished with dill and parsley.
Charred Tomato, Fennel, Chorizo (RM25.00) is yet another interesting delicacy at The Cellar. Slices of levain bread are first toasted with olive oil, and then spread with tomato ragout that consists of chopped tomato, tomato coulis and other vegetables. The stack is followed by thin slices of chorizo (Spanish pork sausage), halved cherry tomatoes and sliced fennel.
After giving a sprinkle of truffle oil, the bruschetta is torched to impart a touch of toasty aroma. The overall taste is gracefully balanced as the saltiness of chorizo is evened out by levain and tomatoes.

One of my favorite dishes this evening is the Squid, Salted Duck Egg, Coriander (RM55.00). The squid is blanched beforehand to prevent it from turning too rubbery. Next, squid rings are coated with batter made from tempura flour, salted duck egg yolks and turmeric. After deep-frying, the rings are then sautéed with onions and curry leaves.
Squid is sandwiched between halved mantou (馒头) buns alongside iceberg lettuce, coriander and tartar sauce. Thanks to brief blanching in the beginning, the squid attains tender texture that prevents the burger stack from falling apart while being eaten.
As for desserts, the Chef's Choice Of The Day (RM35.00) is Coffee Soufflé. Made from white coffee, egg and whipped cream, the soufflé is chilled in the freezer to allow it to set. When ready to serve, cocoa powder, mascarpone mousse (a foam made from mascarpone cheese, whipped cream and amaretto liquor using an espuma gun) and coffee-flavored meringue crisps are added on top. The dessert is then garnished with microgreens.
Meanwhile for cocktails, the Cosmopolitan (RM33.00) is prepared from Smirnoff vodka, Cointreau triple sec, lime juice and cranberry juice. Meanwhile, Strawberry Cooling (RM30.00) consists of a mixture of vodka, strawberry syrup and soda.
Name: The Cellar
Address: 228, Jalan Macalister, 10400 George Town, Pulau Pinang
Contact: 04-228-3888
Business hours: 5:00pm-1:00am (Sunday-Thursday), 5:00pm-2:00am (Friday-Saturday)
Website: http://www.macalistermansion.com/thecellar.html
Coordinates: 5.41949 N, 100.31892 E
Directions: Macalister Mansion is located on the one-way stretch of Macalister Road (Jalan Macalister), after Loh Guan Lye Specialists Centre and also on the left side of the road. The Cellar is located on the west wing of the mansion. Parking is available within the mansion's spacious compound.

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