January 2010 Issue
Sure, any restaurant wants you to enjoy your food, but at Slims they go a little further: They want you to know your food. And really know it well.
More than that, they want you to take your time with it. Once you’re there, you’ll definitely want to as well.
For six years, Slims has specialized in unusual flavor combinations, homegrown food and a warmly laid-back atmosphere. Slims grows its greens and other vegetables in a greenhouse nearby, and the windows of the small Northside eatery are full of hydroponic beds of tiny arugula sprouts just waiting to garnish some lucky diner’s plate. Try to imagine a place that combines local art gallery, European bistro and down-home rural kitchen — a restaurant whose Web site mixes poetry from Pablo Neruda, quotes from Thomas McGuane and chatty staff conversations about “innovative and sophisticated pastry techniques.”
Slims’ eclectic, hand-written menu changes almost daily, and the eatery is only open Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, from 5:30 p.m. “until the food is gone,” though they promise that doesn’t happen very often.
Our waiter carefully described every item, explaining the oddities of some dishes and explaining ingredients such as faro, fufu, yatapa, buffalo albondigas and more. The item he said was the closest thing to a specialty of the house, apple-braised pork belly, would have a hard, cracker-crunch skin, he promised, undergirded by soft, succulent meat that tended toward fatty.
He was right, and it was delicious — as was the exotically concocted seafood plate that arrived with shrimp and calamari in a cheerful orange sauce over rice. We were tempted by the paella, which has rabbit, quail, clams and chorizo in it. There’s always a vegetarian entree on the menu, too.
First courses are equally inventive, such as salads that mix bitter greens, fuyu persimmon, roasted pearl onions and hazelnuts, with a sherry vinaigrette. Our appetizers included another item that had to be explained — patacan pisao and ropa vieja, which turned out to be braised pulled beef atop a cake of plantain — just terrific — and a roasted cauliflower soup that was heavily flavored with cumin. Dining at Slims can be full of surprises, all of them wonderful and worth experiencing.
Note: If you want to enjoy a beer or glass of wine, remember to bring your own — Slims doesn’t sell it, but will open it for you without charging a corkage fee.
— Ron Rollins
4046 Hamilton Ave. 45223