We were initially going to hit Brown Street and see what we could find, but I wasn't paying attention to where the driver was going, so we quickly ended up downtown. One of my dining companions mentioned she'd had a great dinner at Jay's seafood, but after parking, we realized they weren't open for lunch. The other two aren't huge Thai food fans, so Thai 9 was out. I hadn't been there yet, but figured SideBar was worth taking the gamble on.
It's set up the same way Pacchia was, with the coffee bar entrance to the restaurant. The only problem is, I couldn't seem to find a hostess stand - or a hostess. Regular readers will know it takes me about 60 seconds of waiting to find out how I'm to be seated before just dipping out and finding another place. In just under that 60 second mark, the hostess finished her cell phone conversation and we were seated. Our incredibly friendly server took our drink order and gave us a few to peruse the menu, and explained that they'd revamped the lunch selections.
Once I saw the Pork Churrasco with chimichurri, I was sold. My co-workers chose the white fish, eggplant, and shrimp salad, respectively. The food came out relatively quickly, despite the awkward lingering silences involved with dining with people you don't know very well. I tore into mine like a well-mannered wild animal, slowly noticing I'm always the only one at business meetings to clean their plate.
The pork was well-cooked and seasoned, as well as super tender, and the chimichurri was bonkers with flavor. The veggies were all cooked well, too - just soft enough, but with a little bite left to them. The Spanish style rice & beans, I could have lived without, but I usually don't eat rice anyway. But then, the dish completely won me over again with the fried plantain chips. Nice touch. Plated really nicely, as well.
Unfortunately, my co-workers were not equally impressed with their selections. Apparently the eggplant was mushy, and the house-made vinaigrette for the salad had zero flavor. But, considering I don't know most of these people well enough to pass judgement solely based on their opinion, I can only rate Sidebar on my personal experience. MY food was tops, and the service (aside from the hostess) was great. Pricing was fair, considering the scale of restaurant. So, half a point off for the hostess and half a point for unhappy lunch buddies.
4 out of 5 sporks!