Friday, December 16, 2011

niche (4) - st. louis, mo
1831 sidney street
st. louis, mo 63104

pics only this time...i have reviewed niche three times previously (1,2,3), so check out those reviews if you are not familiar with this fantastic restaurant.

maple custard - roasted mushrooms, bonito caviar
scarpetta pinot nero brut rose


chili flake focaccia

lobster - pullman, celery, tarragon, togarashi hollandaise
schramsberg chardonnay blance de blancs


day boat scallops - french horn, shiitake, cocoa nib, walnut, lemon, juniper
proprieta sperino nebbiolo 2007


lavender sorbet

beef and onions - candied onion, onion jam, soubise, pommes aligot
corteforte corvina/rondinella/molinara 2007

pommes aligot

squash bread pudding - acorn, butternut, maple, ginger, marshmallow
chambers rutherglen muscat

Thursday, December 8, 2011

sidney street cafe (2) - st. louis, mo
2000 sidney street
st. louis, mo 63104

after celebrating my birthday at chef/owner kevin nashan's sidney street cafe back in january, the restaurant slipped to the back of my mind for some reason. while i definitely enjoyed my first experience at the benton park restaurant, nothing i had was so good that i felt allocating my dining dollars to a return visit over some place new was justifiable. with almost a full year of dining behind me since our initial trip as well as issues with a few new places i am interested in trying (not yet a blood&sand member and boring menu at home wine kitchen), carrie and i decided to give sidney street cafe another visit. i will note that almost a month has passed since our meal, and i am definitely hazy on a lot of what we were served on this night, so please bear with me =)

having made reservations via telephone that morning for a six o'clock table for two, carrie and i ran into a considerable amount of traffic on our trek from illinois, but still managed to arrive only a few minutes past six. upon confirmation of our reservation, we were shown to a two top in the candle lit dining room. on our first visit to sidney street, the menu was written out vaguely on a chalkboard and it was the job of the server to thoroughly explain each offering. although the appetizer portion of the menu is still done in this fashion, the main entrees are now typed out in full on a standard menu. for me, this is a perfect compromise between the two methods, as it still gives the charm of the chalkboard but allows the diner to accurately select their entree without having to ask the server to repeat all of the components multiple times.

unbeknowst to me on our first visit, sidney street also offers a tasting menu consisting of an amuse, appetizer, fish course, meat course, and dessert for a reasonable price of sixty dollars. our server informed us that the way the tasting normally works is that each person actually receives a different dish than their dining companion, and asked if that was ok with us. deeming this the most logical way to fully enjoy chef nashan's cooking, carrie and i opted for the tasting without hesitation, and we asked if there were any offerings from the menu we specifically wanted to try (foie and pork for me, and surprises for carrie). we also requested to be served a few small tasting portions of wine throughout the meal at the discretion of our server. this request was handled graciously and without issue.

shortly after placing our order, the amuse for the evening arrived in the form of whipped eggs and cheese with ham and snow peas. if i recall correctly, our server mentioned that the eggs and cheese were whipped and then put in an aerosol can to give the dish a light and airy consistency. honestly, this was a bit of a miss for me, as i am not a fan of peas, and there was far too little ham. also, the sheer amount of whipped egg was somewhat overwhelming, and i found it difficult to finish. for me, this would have been more successful in a much smaller portion. 

for my first proper course, my request for the foie dish was granted. this was a small portion of seared foie gras on a blini served with peanut butter ice cream and a cherry gastrique. although i wish there had been another bite or two of foie, this offering was definitely a hit for me, as the rich liver worked beautifully with the peanut butter ice cream that was more savory than sweet.

carrie was served a house made pasta dish as her first course. the details have been forgotten, but i know this course was enjoyed by carrie.

my fish course for the evening was pan roasted skate served with mushrooms, house made potato chips, and a few other ingredients.

caramelized scallops with brown butter grits.

sidney street's pork offering changes often, and on this night it featured an excellent crispy pork belly.

lamb trio

at this point i am unable to comment on the desserts aside from the fact that mine (pictured first) had a peanut butter and jelly theme going on with carbonated grapes.

overall, this visit to sidney street was considerably better than our first. with the exception of the amuse, everything included in our tasting menu was delicious and interesting, and gives me a much better impression of what chef nashan is capable of. this meal definitely ranks in the top five i have had in st. louis, and has firmly put the sidney street cafe on the map for me. next time around, i will be sure to write a much more comprehensive review! i will also take this opportunity to note that while i have fallen behind on my blog as of late (meals at sanctuaria, bogart's, longman & eagle, fixe @ half and half, and another visit to niche may never be posted), i am still dedicated to this venture and have a very exciting trip to new york city coming up at the end of january boasting a ridiculous restaurant line up (13 michelin stars in 3 days). please stay tuned...