Small talk

Sierra St. Kitchen & Cocktails serves up small plates, including bacon-wrapped, stuffed dates.

Sierra St. Kitchen & Cocktails serves up small plates, including bacon-wrapped, stuffed dates.

PHOTO/ALLISON YOUNG

Sierra St. Kitchen & Cocktails is open Sunday through Thursday from 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Friday and Saturday from 11:30 a.m. to midnight.

Sierra St. Kitchen & Cocktails offers a sizable list of house cocktails, wines and bottled beers to accompany its ample menu of small plates. The ambiance is something between modern pub and French bistro. The room is pretty small, so reservations are definitely recommended.

I started with a garden martini ($11) of craft gin combined with muddled basil, cucumber and a splash of soda. Though not as chilled as I’d like, it tasted like a fresh herb salad tossed in a boozy dressing.

Nearly everything from the kitchen was served with toasted bread rounds and crackers, including a cheese and meat plate ($18) with thin slices of prosciutto, salami and capicola, paired with brie, Jarlsberg and Manchego cheeses. The first two meats were fine, but the coppa was a step above. It had a nice, spicy finish. I only wish there’d been a little more on the plate. The cheeses were all good and served at the proper room temp.

Next was a dish of prosciutto-wrapped asparagus spears ($7.50) served atop a spring mix salad, dressed with freshly grated parmesan cheese and balsamic vinegar. Though the flavor combination worked, the hefty stalks were a bit woody and undercooked. We followed this with skewered, bacon-wrapped dates stuffed with goat cheese ($7), served with the same greens and balsamic drizzle. Besting the spears, the dates were a knockout combination of savoriness, sweetness and texture.

Moving on, we ordered a plate of ahi ($16) and one of beef tartar ($13.50). The small cake of raw Hawaiian tuna was encircled by a schmear of mildly sweet and sour sauce, sprinkled with black sesame seeds, then topped with avocado relish, a salsa of pineapple and mango, and raw slivers of shallot. It was pretty tasty and easy to share. The mound of raw steak was served in classic style—formed into a bit of a bowl shape with an intact egg yolk nestled in the center—surrounded by portions of slivered shallot, sweet gherkin, capers and chopped boiled egg. Once the “yolk popping” ceremony was complete, we scooped up a bit of everything onto toast and crackers and threw caution to the wind.

Although the menu listed blue lip mussels ($14), we were served a pound of the green variety with an apology and an explanation about how the supply chain had fallen through. Served in a bath of white wine butter sauce with shallot, garlic and chili flake, they were tender and more than a bit spicy. I loved this dish and spooned the broth onto a crust of bread.

A pair of large, seared sea scallops ($15) were garnished with sprouts, sprinkled with parmesan and perched atop a pile of—somewhat bland and slightly undercooked—risotto, surrounded by a moat of chimichurri sauce and citrus beurre blanc. Though perfectly seared, they were noticeably briny and lacking the trademark sweetness of scallop, a telltale sign of wet-pack shellfish. Perhaps another issue with the seafood vendor?

We finished up with bowls of salted caramel and pistachio gelato ($7.50 ea.), along with creme brulee ($8.50) and bananas foster ($8.50). The gelato was perfect. The creme brulee tasted good but was a bit runny, and the hot, boozy bananas with vanilla ice cream were surprisingly potent.