If you live in the East Village you know the name. Sidewalk Café is a downtown landmark located on E. 6th and Avenue A. Likely, you’ve indulged in a burger and fries there at least once after a particularly late night of drinking. I myself hadn’t been to Sidewalk Café in nearly 4 years and was pleasantly surprised when I returned today.
Sidewalk Café, in its former glory, was little more than a greasy spoon and music venue, famous for giving career jump-starts to emerging musicians like Beck, Regina Spector, and the Moldy Peaches.
Since the mid-1980’s, Sidewalk Café has been a place to grab a cheap and dirty burger, jam at Monday open mic night and discover the anti-folk scene. The little spot was – and still is – entrenched in music history. But, up until a year ago, the food was a little par for the course.
But not any longer! Nearly a year ago, Chef Erik Rubin and General Manager Liam Wager teamed up to reimagine the Sidewalk Café as a cool, historic downtown restaurant. They’ve created some amazing new dishes (and bettered a few old ones too), redesigned the modern (yet warm) interior, and brought in an amazing crowd of young musicians and artists.
I tried several of Erik’s creations, the first of which the Portabello Cheese Bomb. The name alone was enough to make me think twice but I suspended belief, lifted the toasted sandwich to my mouth, and took a bite! A cheesy explosion of mushroomy goodness oozed from the patty. The Portobello caps, stuffed with bread crumbs and fontina, were both ingenious and satisfying. The Kaiser bun added a wonderful crunch, the balsamic reduction was a tangy surprise!
Just when I thought I had found love at Sidewalk Café, I met my match: The SideWalk Burger. Erik jokingly called it “The everything-you-could-ever-want-on-a-burger-burger”. The thing was massive; a masterpiece of a burger filled with tender bacon, ham, fried egg, avocado, crispy shallots, swiss and special sauce.
One bite and my mind was blown. Hands down A++.
Erik and Liam grinned ear to ear as I mumbled, chubby cheeks filled with burger, that it was “Berry berry gud”.
This is coming from the kid who, until a recent discovery of mustard, refused to eat a burger unless it was well-done and on a dry bun.
I washed it down with a Leblonita, a pink drink made of Leblon Cachaca, Leblon Cedilla Acai liqeur, lime and a little bit of mint. Delightful!
Let’s just say, I enjoyed myself thoroughly at Sidewalk Café – and I know you will too! Just careful how much you enjoy it.
After my culinary extravaganza, they had to roll me outta there!
(willy wonka image compliments of subaroosmiles:)
Be sure to stop by Sidewalk Café at 94 Avenue A in the East Village and try the Portabello Cheese Bomb. The thing is killer! Also, check their website for upcoming music events, art exhibits and cool new burger creations.