Friday, November 2, 2012

Sidedoor Contemporary Kitchen and Bar

Growing up in Winnipeg, I have fond memories of spending time at my Baba and Zeida's house.  They lived less than 10 minutes away.  I'd have sleepovers and Baba would always make me cream of wheat, a half a grapefruit (sliced in half, with each piece of fruit cut away from the skin) and a perfectly soft-boiled egg.  She'd make sure that she picked up some corned beef and rye bread, my favourite, before my arrival.  My Zeida would barbecue chicken, often drumettes.  I believed that they came from chickens with really small legs, but never questioned the practice since they tasted so good.  I'd scope out the garden for ripe cucumbers. My brother and I would pick apples from the trees in the backyard,while my Baba lost her mind thinking that we were going to fall and hurt ourselves.  Before family dinner started, I'd steal all of the homemade pickles my Baba had cut up and put on the table.  No surprise that some of my most vivid memories are about the food.

I can't help but feel a little bit envious of friends (with babies) who have family living in the same city as them.  Living in Ottawa, R and I have at least a 5 hour drive to see Giz and a 5 hour flight to see his parents in Saskatchewan.  Will E know her grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, etc?  When will she understand why I stick this noise-making black thing (iPad) in front of her face for Skype dates? Will we ever find a babysitter with whom we can feel comfortable leaving E?

We were really happy to have R's parents come for a visit last week.  They spent a lot of time with E.  R and I even got a night out, which we took advantage of by going out with a couple of friends to Sidedoor Contemporary Kitchen and Bar, located in the Byward Market.

They serve small plates, which we shared with a couple of friends.  My favourite dish was the tacos.  We ordered lamb with funky chili and Chinkiang pulled pork.  The combination of flavours in the lamb was so good.  It had both my friend and I wishing we could mix flavours that well.

While R was driving around looking for parking in the market (usually a frustrating experience), I was texting my friend asking for his recommendations on what to order.  He suggested the broiled blackened cod with butter leaf lettuce wrap and house pickles.  Since I'm not a big fan of cod, I decided to try the grilled beef version.  Everyone enjoyed this dish.  My only critique would be that they could have had more of the house pickles and basil on the plate.  We were left with a lot of lettuce and meat.

This is the pork belly braised in a master stock with mango salad, cashews and chili lime caramel. This was probably my second favourite dish, after the tacos.  The pork belly was nice and tender, but the best part was the salad topping.  So delicious.  

I enjoyed the calamari.  It was lightly battered and fried. Good flavour and texture. 

On the left is the Peking style Mariposa Farm chicken.  Everyone agreed that this dish could have been better.  The skin wasn't very crispy and the chicken was a bit on the dry side.  The bok choy tips were okay.  My friend who eats a lot of bok choy didn't like it because of the butter flavour.  Personally, 
I don't eat much bok choy and it tasted fine to me.

The son-in-law egg with chili jam and fried shallots was, visually, quite interesting.  But none of us actually liked the taste.  The combination of egg (with a soft yolk) and chili jam is not a flavour combination I find pleasing.

For dessert, we ordered the donut sharing platter.  However, shortly before it arrived, one of the people at the table visited the washroom.  So, the three of us sat staring at the donuts, waiting for our friend to return.  Finally, the waiter noticed and came over to tell us that we shouldn't wait because they are warm.  But, by the time we ate the donuts, they weren't warm anymore.  So, maybe they're great when they're fresh out of the oven.  But if you let them sit for 10 minutes, they're nothing special. 

So, all in all, an enjoyable meal.  But, I would say that there was some imbalances in the dishes.  Some were amazing and some were underwhelming.  Now, in terms of the service...I read a lot of reviews ahead of time that gave negative feedback about the service.  Our waiter was well-informed. But, his demeanour was a bit "too cool for school."  Not a deterrent to returning, but I could see how a customer would feel uncomfortable.

Sidedoor Contemporary Kitchen & Bar on Urbanspoon



That Girl said...

I grew up far from extended family and am still very close to them - because my mom always made an effort. I have faith that E will be the same way.

Pickles said...

My mom posted a picture of my nana & grandad on my bulletin board when I was young and it remained there well into university. Whenever they visited I was the only one not scared of 'the strangers' because they were the same faces I saw, literally, every day.

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