The Rustic Cellar
409 SE Mizner Blvd., Boca Raton.
Call 561-392-5237, or visit here.
Dark mauve curtains hung from the huge windows of the
Rustic Cellar, and through them I could make out a few couples, seated
on circular yellow chairs, talking intimately. Inside smelled like a
clean hotel; the room had a long, curving black bar, behind which
stood a gargantuan wall unit lined with dozens and dozens of wine
bottles. High shelves holding prized wine bottles lined the clay-
colored walls; artistic black-and-white photographs covered them. One
wall even displayed a pair of artistic, high-res close-ups of a pink
flamingo. Orange sconces glowed wanly from the walls, and Rihanna's
"What's My Name" played softly in the background.
"Your haircut makes you look younger, I see." The bartender, good-
looking and trim with dark hair and light stubble, was teasing a
rotund, mustached patron.
"It'll take more than a haircut to do that," he said gruffly. But
he lifted his wide-mouthed wineglass. "Good thing the hairdresser's
is right next door and I can take over my wine and drink while she
does it." They laughed.
"Should I top you off?" Jeremy, the bartender, offered.
"No, I'm driving," the man answered responsibly. "But I've
got a bottle of Russian River waiting for me at home."
"Very nice," Jeremy replied before greeting me politely.
The Rustic Cellar has been around for about six years now. According
to Jeremy, it's maintained a chill vibe and a steady crowd of
regulars and has hosted a lot of winetastings and parties.
"Here we sell nearly all our wines -- though not the most expensive
ones -- by the glass," Jeremy told me.
"Pardon my ignorance, but... what does that matter?" I asked.
"Most wine bars make you buy the bottle if you want wine that costs
more than, roughly, $13 a glass," Jeremy explained patiently. "We
don't. Say someone wants a glass of a nice pinot noir, $100 bottle,
so I open it for them. Via Twitter and Facebook, we alert our regulars
that we've got a bottle of that certain kind of wine opened."
"What's the most expensive one?" I asked, eagerly scanning my
eyes over the rows of dark, smooth bottles.
While Jeremy considered, I began leafing through a thick, heavy menu.
It was filled with champagnes, Sauvignon Blancs, Chardonnays, Merlots,
Zinfandels... even a limited number of Belgian and small-brewery
beers: basically, a menu to please all the booze snobs in your life --
everyone from your boss to the local suburban-neighborhood happy-hour
gang. "We have some $400 bottles for sure," he said. "We have a
Miner wine that's $220 a bottle and a Staglin that's $250 a
Jeremy, I discovered, was working at the Rustic Cellar while finishing
his master's in... biomedical neuroscience.
"If I'd have known you were smart, I'd have stepped up the
caliber of this conversation," I joked.
He laughed modestly; the rotund gentleman spoke up with a playful
smirk: "Don't lie, Jeremy," he said. "You're actually a
construction worker." With that, he turned to the pair of beautiful
young women nearby.
"Can't drink too much -- getting up at 4 a.m. and going fishing
tomorrow," he told them. "I do every Saturday."
The ladies murmured appreciatively.
"That's the life," said Nadya, who had smooth skin, close-cropped
hair, and a wonderful, pearly smile.
"What do you two like about the bar?" I gracefully entered the
Nadya held up a menu from a nearby restaurant. "They order food from
the restaurants in the area, and the restaurants deliver it to you
here," she offered.
"So it's like they have a ton of food options, although in-house,
they only offer a few different appetizers," I said. "Cool."
"It's very chill here," said Imbol, who was beautiful and shapely
with smooth brown hair. She wore tennis shoes and a tight-fitting
purple top. "This place is like Starbucks with alcohol."
At that point, Imbol, Nadya, and Jeremy became engaged in a
conversation about the differences between dining overseas and dining
here in America: Evidently, you don't get rushed to hurry up and
drink your cup of coffee while sitting in fancy Mediterranean cafés.
Not being able to contribute to that worldly conversation, I decided
to slink off to somewhere a little more on my level...