Sidebar, on 5th St in the Oregon District, occupies the space where Pacchia used to be. Sidebar originally opened near the Schuster Center and moved to be able to expand their food offerings, but I found this Sidebar to be much different from its previous incarnation, which was primarily a cocktail lounge. The previous Pacchia space has been revamped, the bar moved and enlarged, and it’s both more open and modern. Cocktails are still a focus at Sidebar, with fresh-squeezed juices and house-made bitters, and mostly top shelf liquor. Most house cocktails are $9, which is on the expensive side for Dayton, but the quality of the drink I had made it worthwhile. The wines on offer are heavy on reds (seven pages worth on the wine list) and light on whites (only one page), so nothing appealed to us on a hot, humid evening.
On to the food….the menu has mostly tapas, with some pizzas and some entrees and some desserts. The tapas seemed most interesting, so we shared some of them. First up were three beef empanadas. They were OK, but I wouldn’t order again. The pastry was a bit tough and the filling a bit sparse, and I wasn’t thrilled with the powdered sugar sprinkled over the pastry. Still, we ate them and the flavor was decent. Next up were the crab-filled piquillo peppers with romesco sauce. These were actually filled with some kind of creamy cheese that had a bit of crab stirred in; I wouldn’t order this again either and we didn’t finish the three on the plate. The next tapa was the most successful; it was billed as chicken and shrimp skewers with green almond sauce. The plate had one skewer of three shrimp, and one of chicken, both with dollops of the spicy green almond sauce. There was also a small scoop of salad greens, and something that might have been a very small piece of quiche or tortilla. This was delicious, so good that we decided to order one more tapa to finish our meal. We ordered the shrimp in garlic sauce. There serving was five shrimp, in a broth that seemed to be made of white wine, olive oil, chicken stock, and garlic. The shrimp were cooked correctly and were good, but the sauce needed more garlic, and would have benefited from using fish or shrimp stock vice chicken.
Service was good, although our server explained that they bring the tapas out as they are prepared, since the kitchen has no heat lamp and prefers to serve them fresh. This resulted in somewhat uneven timing, with two tapas coming at once, and a relatively long wait for the last one, as the place filled up. Our water was kept filled, and they have a reverse osmosis system, so it had no chlorine taste and was gratis, always a plus in my estimation. Although we didn’t sample dessert, the dessert the folks next to us had looked tasty, and they consumed every bite. I’ll definitely return and try more of the offerings here.
410 E 5th St, Dayton, OH 45402
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