5 May 2015
Another long day, including a quick trip up to Springfield, Illinois — just to find Lincoln’s Tomb to be closed (on anniversary week?!). No biggie. But it was a long trek back trying to take in smaller towns and getting lost on the way no thanks to that crappy thing called Google Maps… But I made it back just in time and was looking forward to dinner at the well-liked eatery just south of Downtown, the aptly named Sidney Street Cafe.
Sidney Street Cafe has an excellent reputation, and Chef Kevin Nashan is frequently listed as one of the best in the Midwest. This should be a good closing dinner for me here in St Louis. I certainly hope it shows off more of this city’s fine cuisine than The Libertine, as the only food in St Louis I have been drooling about so far are the ribs (and snoots) from Roper’s and Big Mama’s…
I was seated at a table inside the annoyingly dark dining room and it was already a busy night with a lot of regulars it seems, as well as larger parties. I placed my order (only possible thanks to using my phone as a light) after a needed cocktail arrived in my hands. I needed to relax as it was a very long day, including becoming utterly lost in central Illinois on dirt roads trying to find a highway…and nearly being shot for “trespassing” despite not being able to tell when public and private lands differentiated…
Yes, I almost got gunned down at a rural cemetery. You can’t make this shit up…
I waited quite a long time and after seeing nearly everyone get their food before me, I was starting to wonder what happened. Then when a freebie showed up I figured something’s gone awry…
Anyway, the freebie, the Jonah crab. Not a bad starter at all, snappy and tasty. The shishito and turnip helped the overall dish, though the vinaigrette was unnecessary. Nice start despite the wait. Then after a bit more wait my starter finally arrived, the shrimp and peas.
Not quite what I expected as there was nearly no peas (in a puree form), but two solid shrimp. The bodies were cooked well. The heads were deep-fried and stuffed, but there was a problem there. Most tempura shrimp heads fried in Japan are done much finer, and does not go down the body into the layered shell area — because the texture and cooking time required becomes completely different. It’s like deep frying a whole fish and trying to get the bone and cheek to edibility in one go. Don’t work. See how it is in tempura places like Tenko Honten in Hiroshima or even Kiriko in Los Angeles.
Nice try, to be honest, but the sheaths of shell from the late end kind of ruins it for the whole thing. I know why they kept it, to stuff it properly, but this for me is a nice-try-but-no.
I switched to some wine and awaited my main course, which came out soon — the day’s pork special.
Not a bad plate, several different preparations of various pork bits. I am not a fan of air-puffed type of crackling, it loses all the flavours. A little smaller than I thought, but enough on a very knackering day. Plus one of the adjacent tables was getting drunk and rowdy, so I thought that may be enough for the day.
Not blown away, but wasn’t mediocre as was The Libertine the other night. Maybe I ordered wrong, because these dishes were nothing like what I saw on the website’s photos page — not in content, creativity nor plating (the latter I care little as it was too dark anyway). But it was just not quite what it was trying to sell.
However, little did I know that night that the next leg of my trip, Oklahoma, would bring far better dishes from kitchens that get far less media attention. In any case, not bad.
Off to OKC…
Sidney Street Cafe
2000 Sidney Street
St Louis, Missouri