Restaurant review: Si Senor!
Just as an oyster produces a pearl, Pearl Alley has produced a gem of a sandwich shop called Si Senor!
To be specific, a sammie-hawking table doing business in the outdoor Pearl Market last summer has just spun off - right down the block - an exciting and full-fledged restaurant.
Make that semi-fledged. Because while impeccably clean-looking, Si Senor is a dinky, to-go-oriented operation with only four teeny tables. Still, the place gets the most out of its upbeat Latin jams, downscale Pier One-type accoutrements, checkerboard floor, a cream-colored curtain and smiling service. Most important, of course, are Si Senor's sandwiches - which have all been slam-tastic.
Basically, what you can expect from Si Senor's 11 bread-bound specimens are familiar American lunchtime tropes jazzed up with Latin style. Most of these brash add-ons have gentle but inspired South American accents.
For instance, when I scanned the menu board and read the prosaic-sounding "Turkey Breast with Jalapenos" ($6.50), I was non-plussed. But when I bit into that jalapeno-relish-enlivened combo, I became an instant believer.
On a decent, lightly toasted ciabatta roll (you can substitute wheat or white bread if you want) came big slabs of house-roasted turkey fragrant with an herby marinade. The tender meat was given a sweet turn from deeply sauteed onions complemented by the spicy but restrained jalapeno mix. Broiled manchego cheese and chipotle mayo brought a racy richness to the dee-licious sandwich.
Also a knockout was the Chicharron Peruano ($6). It starred powerhouse pieces of pork shoulder that'd been stewed and fried, rendering them simultaneously tender and crispy. Igniting the dynamite pig meat were pickled red onions, cilantro and a peach-colored sweet potato mayo that seemed to be equal parts starch and fat (gotta love that ratio). The overall effect was of a terrific Mexican carnitas taco transported onto a juice-sopping roll.
The kinetically named "Jumping Beef" ($6.75) did indeed do a dance in my mouth. Piled-high thin slices of au-jus-soaked roast beef were very effectively aligned with soft and stewy tomatoes and onions plus tangy, melted sharp manchego. Rounding out the flavors was a rich avocado mayo.
But could this place succeed at a vegetarian option? Si, senor! In fact the "meaty" and generously proportioned Roasted Portobello Mushroom with sauteed red onion strands, a garlicky chimichurri sauce and mucho melted provolone would likely please even a heavy carnivorous eater.
For dessert, the remarkably moist, not-too-sweet, cinnamon-kissed homemade Tres Leches cake ($3.50) is one of the best of its kind in town - and very, very highly recommended.
6 E. Long St., Downtown
For more local food news and reviews, click to G.A. Benton's blog Under the Table at ColumbusDiningGuide.com