Flavor Saturation – Sidney Street Cafe
Sidney Street Cafe. Yum. This restaurant – in Benton Park south of Lafeyette Square and east of Soulard – has been around for a while. It has changed ownership at least once that I know of (so probably more than once), and has recently jumped on the locavore-home-farming-let’s-convert-some-of-the-restaurant’s-parking-lot-to-a-garden movement. Not that I’m knocking their farming endeavors or, really, anything about this restaurant. It’s fantastic.
We went there last week to celebrate my mom’s birthday – her request. I knew the name, I knew I had been there, but I also knew it had been a while. What a shame. Wasn’t until we walked in that I recalled I loved this place. Somewhat split level dining area, dark/cozy atmosphere, chalkboard menus devoid of description (because your server will run through and describe everything table side), and the familiar tall candle lit at the beginning of the meal to subtly remind you and the staff exactly where you are/should be in the meal.
1. Bartender made a great dirty martini (mine), vodka tonic (mom’s), and bloody mary (dad’s). How can a vodka tonic possibly be tasty, a vodka tonic is a vodka tonic, right? Answer: if the product and bartender are high quality.
2. Savory beignets with whipped honey butter, scrumptious. Beignets weren’t particularly light, but they weren’t doughy or heavy either. Went well with the above martini. And, yes, I could taste a hint of pork because of the oil they fried them in, and I think that should become a permanent addition to their preparation.
3. Appetizers. Choices a-plenty. We opted for a combo, each of us getting one of three choices. Veal dumpling, honey mustard shrimp, crab cake. [And yes, I'm working on up-ing the photo quality]
Now you may think the latter two sound mundane. For shame, you foodie snob. I’m telling you they were executed to perfection. The appetizers caused my mom to exclaim the oft made – but never observed – lament that we should be content with a meal consisting drinks, bread, and delicious appetizers because anything else stuffs us to bursting. Alas, no. Because then there was…
4. Entrees, which presented a dilemma. I was stuck between the grilled scallops with celery root puree, ham hock jus, and ‘whipped’ bacon and the lamb trio. Lamb won out.
This plate consisted primarily of – what else – lamb. Perhaps if the lamb confit/lamb sausage cassoulet was a bit smaller portion (which I advocate since it was a somewhat dry, weak link on this overall strong plate), then something else besides lamb, white beans, and polenta could have made it on the plate to freshen it up. Favorite part: the neck and rib lamb pockets. These two small mounds of tender, shredded meat were absolutely saturated with flavor. The chop and polenta were just what they should be.
Sadly, didn’t have dessert. In fact, didn’t even hear about dessert to limit temptation. Because (as you’ll see in the post below), we had some birthday cake to eat.
For the complete dining experience, Sidney Street will not disappoint.