Sidebar is a chill but classy destination for pre-show dinner and post-show drinks.
Literal seconds from the Danforth Music Hall, the menu reads like a mixtape of hits, a list of classics like steak frites, burgers, fried chicken, and iconic cocktails like Manhattans, Boulevardiers and Old Fashioneds.
The space is clean and white with a distinct bistro feel, spherical hanging lamps casting a dim glow over the shiny white tile and leathery banquettes.
A garage door at the front opens to the street.
Shishito peppers ($10), like a few dishes, are plated in a skillet, though it’s not actually warm.
I could have done without the bed of hummus and crispy chickpeas they were served on: the shishitos are delicious enough that they could stand on their own.
Southern fried chicken ($16) is chunked into nuggets, not the most authentic fried chicken ever but although the crust isn’t super thick and crunchy it’s nicely crispy and the chicken is juicy. Comes with a surprisingly fiery house hot sauce as well as a vinegary slaw.
Steak frites ($25) tops a thick cut of locally raised, hormone- and antibiotic-free AAA meat with an indulgent compound herb butter. It’s served with shoestring fries and crispy onions that bring the whole picture together, adding texture to the rich dish.
Brussel sprouts ($7) are part of a tight, basic menu of sides few could find argument with. It’s hard to find someone who doesn’t love a brussel sprout when it’s pan seared and accompanied by hunks of double smoked bacon.
Cauliflower ($7) is similarly crowd-pleasing, given the roasted treatment that brings out its best qualities and dressed with flavourful chili flakes, parsley, confit garlic and sherry vinegar.
An Old Fashioned is made with Bulleit, a raw sugar cube, and Angostura bitters, garnished with an orange peel for a faithful rendition of this boozy drink. All cocktails here are two ounces and ring in at $12.
There are also 40 Creek Confederation Oak Manhattans with bourbon cherries, negronis, Moscow Mules, and caesars with loaded skewers. In addition to that, there’s buck-an-ounce wine on tap.
Although this may not be the most personal or intimate spot in town, it serves a purpose, and that’s to feed hungry concert-goers. Like a compilation CD, it’s designed to appeal to the masses, and everyone should be able to find something they like.