Sidedoor is a modern take on Asian food; asian fusion. It is oddly hidden in the market at the basement of Restaurant Eighteen, with its main door facing the condos of the cobblestone courtyard and its patio married with the patios of Social and the Moscow Tea Room. The idea behind Sidedoor is a traditional family-style dinner served to share. The menu, all to similar to that of the Slanted Door in San Francisco, used to be categorized by protein but now is separated by plate size to make ordering much easier. It may be somewhat difficult to navigate the menu since it merely lists the ingredients of its contents and may require some assistance by your server.
The venue is part of a gorgeous heritage building and can be admired from all levels of the restaurant. Wall to wall windows on one side of the restaurant either fills the venue with tons of sunshine or provides the perfect seat to watch the rain or snow fall. Refurbished wood table tops and sleek leather couches make the venue very clean and modern. My favourite aspect is the empty bottle chandelier variation hanging from the high ceilings.
Sidedoor, although it opened its doors a handful of years ago, is still not a well known place. It is certainly not meant to be a fine dining location. In fact it can get quite loud during the weekends and is often occupied by weddings, business events or birthday parties. There are two back dining areas that serve as party rooms but are not overly formal. In fact the open kitchen creates a more casual setting.
The service at Sidedoor can be hit or miss. I strongly feel that its casual atmosphere inadvertently minimizes the need for formal service and can lag in some areas. But in most cases when you visit a venue like Sidedoor you aren’t looking for a hands-on server. You want to order food, keep your glass full, and enjoy your event. This is exactly what you will find here. For those of you who travel on business, the Sidedoor bar is the perfect seat (and great for people watching).
The menus doesn’t change very often unfortunately. It’s staple menu item is the taco; small and expensive but ever so tasty. Yes, tacos are Mexican not Asian, but there are Asian subtleties in each. There were sadly some delicious menu items that were permanently taken off the menu so aside from the tacos I am often unsure what to order, especially if it’s just me and the plates are quite large (as they are meant for sharing). I’d recommend the papaya salad, the scallops, tuna sashimi (J’s favourite) and the lobster curry with rice (although I sometimes ask for the lobster curry without the lobster since I’m sketched out by lobster shipped to Ontario). And of course, you must order the fresh donuts. I know, another non-Asian item, but soooo yummy.