Sauce Bar and Bistro Restaurant Spotlight
Article by Shannon McGraw
Photography by Justin Fox
One of the things I love about dining out in the Corridor is the abundance of diverse restaurants that take pride in creating authentic cuisines from a variety of cultural influences. Sauce Bar and Bistro in Cedar Rapids historic Czech Village neighborhood, is making a mark doing just that. The finer dining restaurant opened just a little more then a year ago and is thriving.
Owners, Lenny Sims and Chris Robinson, along with sous chef Josh Tibbetts, built the restaurant out of the rubble of the flood of 2008 by repurposing a post flooded building, saving it from demolition. They have put a lot of work into the reclaimed building and created an intimate, open space with a one-of-a-kind, ever evolving menu for patrons. The menu is comprised of fragrant, artfully created dishes using locally grown and produced food. Bringing in meat from such places as Big Boy Meats located in NewBo City Market and buying seasonal vegetables from local growers. All of their sauces down to the smoky ketchup are made in-house, as well as all of their pastas. A chalk board in the dining area lists the sources they get their food from so you know where ingredients originated. Along with a board of what that days specials are. A full bar hosting specialty drinks and a nice selection of wines and crafted beers are available and the friendly servers are happy to help in pairing a selection wonderfully with the meal options.
I had heard great things about Sauce Bar and Bistro so I stopped recently for dinner with friends to taste their incredible fusion of flavors.
We started with sharing an appetizer of their BBQ Pulled Pork Fries. Using the tender pork shoulder, the meat is generously seasoned and slow cooked until it falls apart and is shredded. The juicy meat is then tossed in their homemade tangy BBQ sauce and mixed with diced red onion. The shredded pork mixture is formed and then generously hand-breaded and deep fried to a crispy golden brown. Served with a delicious house-made garlic aioli dipping sauce.
For my entrée I ordered their grass-fed flat iron steak, locally sourced from Big Boy Meats. Thin sliced tender pieces of steak, displayed on top of delicately sautéed Brussels sprouts with an aged balsamic reduction sauce, served with hand-cut cider vinegar steak fries. The sauce is amazing! The flavorful balsamic reduction sauce perfectly compliments the steak without over shadowing it.
Sauce’s new fish and chips plate caught my husband’s eye. Thick pieces of meaty white cod hand-battered in Turner Alley Czech Village Pilsner Beer Batter, deep fried to a crispy golden brown and served with a lightly tangy Sherry Vinegar Tartar Sauce made from scratch. The flakey cod was delicious and the tartar sauce added a zesty kick to bring out the delicate cod flavor.
Our friends enjoyed two very aromatic dishes. A new vegetarian option of Roasted Garlic Masa Polenta cakes, topped with sautéed mixed mushrooms, with leafy chard, caramelized onions, roasted red bell peppers and toasted spiced walnuts, drizzled with a Garlic Scape Skordalia Emulsion. A Greek inspired sauce creating a bold flavor that combined deliciously.
The Pasta Special of the week was created with perfectly made Parisian Gnocchi that is made from scratch in-house. The bite-sized gnocchi is mixed with sautéed wild Porcini mushrooms, sliced cherry tomatoes, roasted red bell peppers and chopped grilled chicken breast, lightly seasoned with cracked black pepper to bring out a bit of heat from the dish, and finished with a brown butter sauce. Served with crusted sourdough bread on the side. A really spectacular dish.
The exotic sauces and spices used to create each dish really enhance the flavors and awakens your pallet. Stop into Sauce Bar and Bistro and indulge yourself in an amazing meal.
Sauce Bar and Bistro
1507 C St SW, Cedar Rapids
Lunch Served Monday – Saturday 11am - 2pm
Dinner Served Tuesday – Saturday 5:30 - 9pm
(Bar will remain open from 2-5pm)