When Side Dishes Make a Starring Role

We often do the “happy dance” when we sink our teeth into a delicious entrée. But what about what comes on the side? When paired with a main course, sometimes its accompaniment can be equally, if not more, delightful. A great side dish and entrée, when perfectly sync’d, can bring out the best in each other. Sounds like a marriage made in heaven, right?

We sat down with a few of our chefs and got their take on side dishes – and how they can move from supporting role to starring role by stealing the some of the spotlight.

What makes a good side dish great?

According to Chef Christian, a good side dish always has to compliment the flavors of the main dish, whether it is the seasonings on the rub, the marinade or the type of protein and/or vegetable that pairs with the entrée. Chef Christian likes side dishes that have many elements in one: sweet, sour, salty, crunchy, mushy – it smells good and, most importantly, it looks good.

With that said, he’s a firm believer that the salmon dish at Roundabout Grill represents all these qualities. One bite gets you sweet from the onion cream, crunchy and savory and mushy from the fried risotto cakes and sour from the pea shoot salad dressing that sits on top of the grilled salmon. Order up, please!

What side dishes are you really are lovin’ these days?

While Chef Colin loves the truffle gnocchi because it adds richness and cleverness to a great steak, Chef Steve Kirch digs truffle fries because they are so diverse and packed full of flavor. The chefs can also add them to specials, bar appetizers and of course, the hangar steak at Roundabout Grill.

Truffles aren’t the only ones with star power, however. Chef Christian favors the corn succotash because it is so versatile. He says you can pair it with almost anything by just adding a few ingredients. For example, at Roundabout Grill, it is on the menu with fresh leeks and tarragon to partner with their well-known chicken piccata. Add bacon and green beans to accompany the pork tenderloin. If the chefs want to pair it with fish, they add a little lemon zest and asparagus; or they add wild mushrooms and roasted garlic to go with a nice steak. Wow! It’s the like the Meryl Streep of side dishes.

What side dish do you love making (at home or otherwise)?

Chef Steve Kirch also gives a “thumbs up” to succotash – a side that can be prepared with or without potatoes, beans, onions or corn. It can become more savory by adding bacon and leeks. Or you can turn it into a relish and serve it cold, by first sautéing it with sugar and vinegar.

Chef Steve also adds that a great headline stealer is a roasted butternut squash and root vegetable salad, served cold. You can add maple, sherry and thyme and top your squash like a syrup, and even throw in a bit of cranberry – so good!

Of course, in the Smith household, spaghetti squash is a favorite because it is a healthy alternative to pasta or rice, tastes really good and is easy to make. For a healthier option on the Roundabout Grill menu, you can order the spaghetti squash with turkey meatballs or 4-hour marinara sauce, and feel good leaving the table without demolishing your caloric intake.

Side dishes give chefs a terrific opportunity to experiment, update a mainstay dish and even transform a menu item. Enjoy!

At Roundabout Grill, our approach is simple. Chef Colin Smith brings his brand of inspired American cuisine to the restaurant, located inside the Whitney Peak Hotel in Downtown Reno. Roundabout Grill makes comfort food great again. Free valet parking for restaurant guests. Reservations are available by calling (775) 398-5454.