Lately it's been all sorts of cold, gray, wet and dreary outside, and it's possible the only form of comfort we can find, until the weather improves, is in food. At Hamden's Side Street Grille, a cozy little joint popular with locals and Quinnipiac students, the menu is full of casual pub fare and familiar comfort foods you could probably get on your own elsewhere, but it's better to let Side Street Grille do the hard work.
The menu is worth a close read, with straightforward descriptions mixed in with hilariously named items and pop-culture clip art. Some of my favorites include Governor Rell's Chicken and Ribs Combo, which is listed at $4.99 but comes to $18.99 after hidden tax and kickbacks, and Snoop Dogg's Off the Hizzle Fo Shizzle Dizzle, which is two Hummel hot dogs.
On a recent cold and rainy Friday, the place was quiet at first, but as the afternoon wore on, the scene became livelier as locals headed in for the happy-hour deal of free wings and tater tots with the purchase of a drink. A big-screen TV (there are several situated around the bar) featured Olympic hockey, and a steady stream of '90s alternative rock radio hits were in the air.
But we were there to please our souls. We started off with an order of potato and cheese pierogies ($9.49) and Mike Tyson's Pizza Bites, which are basically fried pizza rolls ($9.99). Yes, everything is better fried. I decided to flex my spicy-sauce muscles and ordered 10 wings with Screamin' Demon sauce ($8.99). It was very hot yet tolerable and extremely enjoyable.
My friend enjoyed the Full House Salad ($8.79), which is accurately described as "large." The greens, vegetables, croutons and dressing sit comfortably in a giant bowl. For my main course, I had a crispy chicken wrap ($9.99), which is exactly what it sounds like. Lettuce, tomato and chicken covered in buffalo sauce (regular, not spicy) were all wrapped up snug, accompanied by some excellent sweet potato fries. My friend had the Magic Mushroom Sangawich ($8.99), on a Portuguese roll, with fries and onion rings. The sandwich comes with roasted red peppers, spinach and provolone, but they happily substitued sauteed onions for the peppers and spinach.
Side Street Grille has many more warm, gooey, steamy items on its creative and chuckle-inducing menu, and we encourage you to head over, spend some time with the menu, and order something to make you feel better about having to go back outside once you leave.
Side Street Grille is at 15 Dickerman St. in Hamden. Hours are Sunday to Thursday, 12 p.m. to 1 a.m.; and Friday and Saturday, 12 p.m. to 2 a.m. Information: 203-407-1539, sidestreetgrille.com.