March 2- 8, 2006
But as a place to stumble home from, it's a step up. The atmosphere is convivial and not oppressively sportsy. Over the bar, silver conical fixtures call to mind the heat lamps you see over a side of beef at a carving station. The walls are a cool blue, livened up by abstract art. A '90s hip-hop soundtrack gets louder as the night wears on; the crowd thicker and friendlier.
Beer is the primary beverage here, with a long list of foreign and domestic bottles and eight kinds on tap. There are seven cheap and predictable wines by the glass. The house drink, the eponymous sidecar, is available in three variations: traditional, apple and "grapeslide" (a Stoli raspberry, blue curaçao and cranberry concoction in a glass rimmed with painfully sour grape Hi-C).
The food is serious by average bar food standards, but it's not gastropub or culinary-school serious. Ingredients are combined freely, almost haphazardly. A vegetable pizza is a global summit of black bean spread, sauteed onion and peppers and melted provolone cheese on Tandoori flat bread with veggies and drizzle of red-pepper aioli. The entrees, like Dijon bourbon chicken or salmon with pistachio pesto, are served atop a hodgepodge of baby spinach, overly roasted red bliss potatoes and nuggets of yellow corn, plus curlicues of balsamic vinegar and dabs of more red-pepper aioli.
Sandwiches, like a grilled chicken breast, a burger or a Nathan's hot dog, can be dressed up with toppings, and they come with a bland cabbage slaw and fries. Toasties, sourdough pressed on a two-sided panini grill, are filled with toothsome combinations like chorizo, cheddar, onions and mustard, or chicken, pistachio pesto and provolone.
Dessert in a bar setting is always a challenge. Here, carrot cake, straight from the bakery, also tastes like it is straight from the fridge. The house special waffles are smothered in chocolate and vanilla ice cream, berry sauce, chocolate syrup and peanut butter saucethe last of which was noticeably absent on our visit. Another beer would be a better way to end the meal, especially if you're walking home.
THE SIDECAR BAR AND GRILLE
22nd and Christian sts., 215-732-3429
Hours: Tue.-Sat., 5 p.m.-2 a.m.; Sun., 5 p.m.-12 a.m.
Appetizers, $3.50-$8; entrees, $3.50-$12
Cash only. Smoking permitted.