Lucky regulars at Sideways Classic Grill sometimes get to share complimentary samplers when chef Brian Hall experiments.
Conjuring up new sauces and food combinations, then seeing how the patrons like them, is how Hall develops his menu.
Creating new flavours for traditional pub food has become an ongoing project for Hall since he conceived Sideway’s first menu in 2012.
At the time, he had a dozen years of cooking experience at Sarnia restaurants under his belt. Longtime friend Sean Barlow had opened Limbo Lounge on Christina Street and Hall had started to work for him.
When Barlow eyed 154 Front St. North for a potential second restaurant, they began talking.
“We wanted to do an upscale sports pub with a different twist,” said Hall. “I started to work with conventional pub food like wings and poutine and make different variations.”
He and Barlow worked four months on the first Sideway’s menu.
“I’m all about making everything from scratch,” said Hall.
The St. Clair High School grad, 33, tried a hand at car repairs before cooking professionally.
“Mechanics was not for me.”
He landed a job at Casey’s Restaurant, starting “at the bottom as a salad guy” and working his way to kitchen supervisor. Next it was the Point Edward Casino for five years.
During that time, Hall completed a two-year program in culinary arts at Lambton.
“I could cook already but going to school taught me the basics, the sauces, and gave me the tools to be creative,” he said.
Hall cooked at Olives Restaurant with Mike Genovi, the chef he credits for teaching him the art of cooking. Two years after Sideways opened, Hall is working on his third menu change.
“It’s going to be the same style with a new flare,” he said. “When you find something that works, like our dill pickle wings or the curried chicken poutine, word spreads like crazy in this town.”
SIDEWAYS CHICKEN TETRAZZINI (1 serving)
4 oz sliced boneless chicken breast
2 tbsp housemade garlic butter
4 oz fresh mushrooms
6 oz housemade Alfredo sauce
2 oz bruschetta
8 oz penne pasta.
Sautee sliced chicken with sliced mushrooms in garlic butter until mushrooms and chicken are nicely browned. Add Alfredo sauce and cook for at least 3 minutes on medium heat. Add bruschetta and pasta. Cook for three more minutes and serve.
– Cathy Dobson