Photo by Roberto Rodriguez


Sidney Street Cafe

Last year, I seemed to have caught Kevin Nashan’s landmark restaurant in what was, by its own lofty standards, a fallow period. My meal there was excellent, but not quite as exciting as what I experienced at the six restaurants I ranked ahead of it in the inaugural STL 100. When I returned to Sidney Street Cafe this year, I found inspired cooking. Nashan seems especially enamored of his kitchen’s wood-fired grill, and it imparted a smoky soulfulness to a piece of red snapper over a feisty nduja sauce and a squab breast, rare, with satsuma and braised endive. On the side was a crock with squab confit and drop biscuits in a classic velouté spiked with lemongrass, an elegant, border-blurring riff on chicken and dumplings. Playfulness abounded. Nashan winked at current St. Louis dining trends with his “ramen”: noodles made from grits, smoked beef brisket, an egg, fermented radishes and blistered turnips in a rich, spicy red-eye-gravy broth. The Tuna Fish Sandwich, tuna with Wonder Bread panna cotta, quail egg pickled in beet juice and tonnato sauce, nodded at childhood. The entire meal was a reminder that more than 11 years after taking over the Sidney Street kitchen, Nashan is still striving to push St. Louis dining forward.

Last year's ranking: 7

Opened: 1987

Must order: Menu changes frequently