Sidney Street Cafe
I've been so busy eating at all these restaurants I've never been to before that I've been neglecting some of my old favorites. It had been over three months since I'd been to chef Kevin Nashan's Sidney Street Cafe, which is unacceptable.
As usual, I read the menu and decided I would be happy eating 9 out of the 11 entrees. Figuring out what to order there usually involves a lot of negotiating with whoever is lucky enough to eat with me. I'll try to pare it down to my top three or four, pick the one I want the most, then use psychology and sales tactics to manipulate my fellow diners to order the runner ups.
Pro-tip: figure out what appetizer you're going to get and place that ASAP. That way you'll get their incredible beignets brought out to you even faster.
The soup for the evening was roasted vegetable with rabbit in it. Any dish that has rabbit in it will be fantastic at Sidney Street. They have mastered it. This soup was no exception.
They always have a salad special, and this one had bleu cheese, walnuts and I believe a walnut dressing, as well. Light and tasty.
Plating is always beautiful there, but the other night they really brought their A-game. Our onion tart came out looking like a piece of art and smelling incredible. The tart itself is filled with caramelized onions, goats cheese and parmesan, then accompanied by a green onion puree, pearl onions, charred leaks, young garlic, onion glass, buttermilk glass, and Spanish olives. It was so tasty. I would love to buy a full pie sized tart and take it home to dip crackers (or my fingers) into while I watch football.
Countering the heavy tart and its laundry list of ingredients was the fluke crudo. Aside from being another visually stunning plate, it was the kind of perfect simplicity you find in upscale Japanese restaurants. Kombu cured fluke is joined by all things beet: pickled beets, beet puree, beet soil, beet marshmallows, all of which is nestled on top of a sorrel puree. I loved the earthy flavors in this dish. Perhaps we'll see a Nashan izakaya next?
First up on the entree side is the Missouri trout. The fish is pan roasted, I believe, because it had that potato chip crispy crust that all people love. It came with potatoes, leeks, onion puree, crispy Andouille and a sorrel vichyssoise. Extremely simple ingredients that can all easily be found locally, taken to another level. I could never make a dish this tasty if I had those ingredients in my fridge.
The craziest dish on the menu last time was the rabbit and waffles, but this time they pushed it even farther. How many times have you seen a dish that has rabbit & octopus? Never, I bet. As I mentioned before, Sidney Street's rabbit is always incredible, so we had to try this. The rabbit components were a roasted leg and their outstanding sausage, along with grilled octopus, panisse, olives and a chorizo vinaigrette. I only got a small bite of this, but I enjoyed it. The leg was a little dry, but I still would have been happy to have ordered this myself.
I was taken aback when I saw that they had Smoked Brisket on the menu. Since when do they ever do anything remotely BBQ related? It was for that reason I had to go for it: if they're confident that it fits on their menu, it must be something special. This was magical.
Let's start with the plating. It's goddamn beautiful! Even the brisket is pretty with its red stripes. Then came the smell: you know when you are driving and you can smell meat smoking somewhere? It was like that, but even better because it was right in front of my face. Everyone at the table was jealous of me, as were the people seated next to us. I think it's also possible that there were originally four cuts of beef on the plate, but that smell was too much for our server to handle, resulting in her eating one.
The meat is brined then smoked for 20+ hours, resulting in quite possibly the best smoked brisket I've had in my life. And that's coming from someone who is a Pappy's/Bogart's fan. The meat has this fantastic crust on it, but as you cut into it you realize the meat is almost like butter. Saying it was melt in your mouth tender is not exaggerating. I bow to chef Justin McMillen and the rest of the Sidney Street crew involved in making this heavenly meat.
It came with celeriac puree, roasted Brussels sprouts, pistachio and sour cherry gremolata, and a coffee and veal reduction. I assume these were all good because I cleared my plate, but I don't even remember what they tasted like. Meat > veggies.
I'm happy to confirm that Sidney Street is still producing delicious, visually stimulating, creative food, just in case you were worried. If you're a meat eater, I implore you to get over there as soon as possible and try that brisket.