An impressive pyramid of ingredients on a square white plate, the smoked chicken nachos at Side Street Grill grabbed my attention from a nearby table. I ordered one immediately, sharing the dish with five friends and a first round of cocktails.
While many nachos use a mishmash of ingredients to justify their place at the table, Side Street’s version keeps things simple: chips, queso, shredded lettuce, diced tomatoes and plump rounds of jalapeno pulled together by the chicken’s smooth and smoky flavor.
Go ahead and skip the nachos’ gratuitous side of sour cream. Better to save your calories for the Grill’s build-your-own burger ($9.50), a half-pound hand-shaped patty served on a Kaiser bun and topped with whatever meets your fancy: Swiss, cheddar, mustard, mayo, goat cheese, pickled okra, Cajun remoulade, or sautéed onions and mushrooms. For an extra 75 cents, toss on a fried green tomato or fried egg.
For dessert, follow the menu’s martini logos (they mean new menu items) to the homemade brownie stack dressed up with vanilla ice cream and a drizzle of caramel and chocolate. The dessert is excellent and bodes well for the dozens of other new dishes scattered across the menu. Entrees, priced around $15, look especially promising, offering Salmon Picata, Beef Kabobs and grilled Cordon Bleu.
A popular cigar and martini bar in Overton Square for well over a decade, Side Street reopened three years ago after an early morning fire destroyed the restaurant. The renovated bar is now separated into two distinct smoking and non-smoking sections, a welcomed change for some customers.
The extensive drink menu, however, is served in both sections. About three dozen cocktails include classics such as Gimlets, Manhattans and gin martinis, along with new concoctions mixed with an endless variety of flavored vodka.
Whether ordering sweet or savory, be careful with the Grill's super-sized drinks. They are made with twice as much alcohol as traditional cocktails and deliver a fun but potent punch. The glasses are also crooked and cute, which is how you will feel after drinking two.
Side Street Grill, 31 Florence St. (901-274-8955)