Thursday, March 15, 2012

Sidney Street Cafe in St Louis

Back in February I was a judge for Cochon 555 here in Memphis. It was a once in a lifetime experience that I will never forget. If I ever get the chance to do it again I will absolutely do so. One of the competing chefs was Kevin Nashan from Sidney St Cafe in St Louis. I was very impressed with what he & his team put out especially their menu presentation. Since we were going to StL for a Radiohead concert last weekend I figured we should also go check out Kevin's restaurant. We got a reservation for 8 so we were able to spend the day bouncing around town & basking in the wonderful weather. When the time came to depart for dinner our friend's Crystal & Okan decided to come along with us. I figured that was fine since of our 4 top one dropped out so we were left with 3. When we arrived at the restaurant we were informed that they didn't have a table to accommodate the extra person. I said we didn't mind if they just pulled a chair up to our original table if that would work. The manager said that they couldn't do that because it runs the risk of backing up into another table. I said we didn't mind but he explained that they didn't want to compromise another table's comfort & space.
At first I didn't quite get why they couldn't add a chair. However, we went to the bar to wait for a table & ordered a bottle of Bethel Heights Pinot Noir 2009. After relaxing with my glass of wine for a bit I realized that the manager's response is exactly what it should have been. In fact, I wish that more restaurants would have that same policy. I realized that if I were at an adjacent table & another chair was added that backed up into me or my guests I wouldn't appreciate it. That policy is obviously in place to make sure that ALL the guests are comfortable. After a short wait at the bar we were seated in the back room where a small table top chalkboard was set listing the specials. It was cute & more importantly unobtrusive. Our server was blunt & direct but not unfriendly. We ordered a sampler of all the starters which arrived split up on a small plate for each of us. The lobster turnover was outstanding. Rich & creamy with a briny sweetness from the crustacean. The sweetbreads were luscious, creamy & unctuous. I adore a sweetbread.
For my main course I ordered rabbit. Rabbit is always a draw for me because it's a very mild protein therefore a chef's technique really shines through. It was rabbit multiplied! Confit, rilletes, sausage...oh wow. I left all manners aside & just picked up the confit leg with my hands & chowed down. The rilletes were rich & luscious & I wished I could've ordered a jar to go. My dish paired perfectly with a bottle of Van Duzer Pinot Noir 2008 Willamette Valley. The earthy texture dried cherry fruit of the pinot played so well off the savory, rich, umami of the rabbit dish.
I can't wait to go back.

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