Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Sauced: Better food, worse cocktails

Posted By on Wed, Jun 15, 2011 at 9:10 AM

I went to check out the new menu at Sauced the other night. As Cliff reported a few weeks back, Andrew Thomas has joined the kitchen staff and the food offerings have changed quite a bit as a result.

I thought the quality of the new offerings were far better than what I've eaten there previously. I had a meat and cheese plate, the highlight of which was a smoked liverwurst. The local cheeses on the plate were great as well. An eggplant napoleon was fairly straightforward - stacked eggplant with cheese and a bright tomato sauce.

We tried two entrees, both specials. Pork fritters were basically patties of pork bits that had been smooshed and then fried together. Tasty. The more daring dish was fried snails over cheese grits and succotash. The grits were fantastic and rich, and the snails were coated in cornmeal and fried crispy. There wasn't a ton of flavor to the meat of the snails, but I suspect that was slightly intentional. The succotash was very heavy on the corn and lacked the usual lima beans. As such, it was a little sweet. I liked it, but I'm not sure it was succotash as much as a corn stew.

Here's the thing that's frustrated me the last few times I've visited Sauced, and it was no different this time: for a bar that's built its reputation partly on its cocktail program, the cocktails are just not that good.

I'm especially horrified by the sazerac they serve, which is obviously shaken vigorously and served in a glass with chipped ice and foam on top (from the shaking? There was so much foam I thought there might have even been eggwhites in there, but that can't possibly be). The chipped ice and the shaking waters the drink down considerably. A sazerac shouldn't be shaken at all - the liquor should be stirred with ice gently to chill and then poured into a chilled glass. I'm all for invention if the result is a better drink, or even a cool take that's just plain different. But this is markedly worse than the classic - watery, foamy, too heavy on the absinthe. The same is true of the Manhattan - I think the chipped ice waters the drink down. The original drink we tried - the Be Somebody, a mixture of gin, Strega, Orangina and bitters - was saccharine sweet, almost undrinkably so.

I love the vibe at Sauced, and the food is absolutely better than it used to be. I wish I could say the same for the drinks.

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