Review: SHY Cellars

Eating at SHY Cellars feels like dining with family, and not just because the restaurant is in a house with an open kitchen. The whole atmosphere is warm. The servers hug patrons who have come in previously and tell their guests stories. The dining room is small—it holds only about 10 tables—but it’s cozy. And the food is comforting.

SHY Cellars describes itself as an “edible experience” and a place to taste, explore and learn. The restaurant is the three-time grand champion of the Taste of the Pro Football Hall of Fame contest, which executive chef Sherry Schie won this year with braised boneless beef short ribs and smoky Gouda mashed potatoes. She has been invited to compete at the National Taste of the NFL during the upcoming Super Bowl.

Let’s get this part out of the way: The drive is a haul. From my apartment in Jackson Township, we logged more than 50 miles round-trip. But when we walked out of the restaurant stuffed and happy, we both agreed it was worth the drive—and that we would come back.

Before you make the trip, here’s a warning, and one SHY Cellars willingly offers: There’s no guarantee about what you’re going to be able to order when you go. The menu changes weekly, the entree offerings vary by day, and everything is based on availability of fresh, seasonal ingredients. The website does list a tentative menu, but a note at the bottom says other featured dishes might be added.

I invited my favorite taste-tester to help me, and we dug into the appetizers, which are on the menu all day. We started with the drunken seafood dip ($10)—a cheesy concoction that includes crab, lobster and shrimp and is served with crostinis. My boyfriend took one bite and then proclaimed, “I absolutely love this.”

We also splurged and tried the fondue experience ($18) with a side of steak ($5). The pots—blue cheese and a seven-cheese dip—were brought to our table over flame. Not only was it delicious, but we also had a lot of fun spearing chunks of crusty bread with our fondue forks.

In the name of research, we decided to try some of the restaurant’s flat breads. There are a handful of choices, from a wild mushroom with goat cheese, onion jam, dates and a fig balsamic glaze ($9) to a backyard chicken with pulled chicken, roasted peppers, cheddar and honey sriracha ($10). Or, if you’re feeling adventurous, you can create your own.

We picked the roasted tomato pesto ($9) with garlic, mozzarella and goat cheese and the barbecue short rib ($10) with red peppers and hot pepper cheese. Each was cut into four squares, which made it easy to share. Both were flavorful and piled high with veggies and cheese.

At that point, we were too full to make it to the dishes designated as dinner entrees. The week we went, meals included shrimp in a Thai chili sauce with smoked grits and bacon ($24), chicken Alfredo linguine ($14.50) and filet mignon ($33).

Somehow, we did manage to save room for dessert, which was probably our best decision of the night. I got a piece of caramel apple cheesecake ($10), placed on top of a thick blondie brownie. The dessert was garnished with slices of apple, drizzles of dark caramel and dollops of cinnamon whipped cream. We also tried the bananas foster cheesecake ($10), which was equally decadent.

SHY Cellars, at 9185 State Route 250 NW, Strasburg, is open from noon to 9 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. Lunch is served until 3 p.m., and dinner begins at 5 p.m. Reservations are recommended and can be made by calling 330-878-4163.

Taste well-seasoned,flavorful, fresh food—no complaints here! 5/5

Service knowledgeable and friendly servers, but the dining experience is not designed to be fast 4/5

Ambiance quaint interior, and you can see into the kitchen, which is cool 4/5

Concept food is delicious and fresh, but the restaurant doesn’t specialize in one type of dish—and the menu constantly changes 4/5

Pricing portions aren’t big, so some dishes seem too expensive 3/4