New in East Sacramento, The Other Side prompts an eternal question: should you, like the chicken, cross the road to get to it? If you do, you’ll find the chickens there have crossed over in a more final sense: The focus at the first food-service venture from popular local brewery Track 7 is rotisserie chicken, with sidelines in roasted pork and cauliflower.
Visitors can see the nicely roasted chickens flying out the door in takeout containers, but it’s worth sitting down to enjoy a freshly served one in-house.
The setting, in the former location of bakery-café Les Baux, is fresh and bright, with witty nods to the subtle chicken theme: eggshell-blue trattoria chairs, a chicken-feather backdrop to the logo. (The Other Side also contains a punning allusion to the name Track 7, as in the other side of the tracks.)
A fast-casual feel prevails; guests order at the counter and choose a seat, which makes the service flexible for both families and beer drinkers. It’s already an apparent hit in a neighborhood chock-full of other dining choices and a city awash with brewpubs.
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Track 7 doesn’t brew on site here, so perhaps The Other Side isn’t technically a brewpub but a taproom. This establishment is Track 7’s first to offer sit-down service. Their other taprooms welcome food trucks.
Like Alaro and Urban Roots, two other recent entries in the general beer-and-food category, The Other Side has steered just clear of brewpub clichés. Alaro went Spanish and more upscale; Urban Roots dove into barbecue; and The Other Side has staked its claim on its rotisserie. Oliver Ridgeway, formerly of Grange and soon to open his own Camden Spit & Larder, consulted on the concept and menu; the head chef is Noah Mansfield, who was a cook at Hook & Ladder.
The Other Side is consequently offering a menu that’s a touch more imaginative than the usual pub grub while still hitting familiar and popular flavors. Yes, you can get a big plate of smothered fries or a darn good burger here, but lighter choices like the rotisserie chicken or roasted cauliflower and some imaginative salads are also on offer. And a lot is done in house: mustard is made with Track 7’s Panic IPA, zingy pickles are done on site, and the onion dip (made with stout) comes with housemade potato chips.
The chicken, roasted on spits to a tawny caramel color, stars here. It’s juicy and flavorful, offered with a choice of sauces plus garlicky, buttery toasted pita bread. Of the sauces, I especially like the green goddess — which also comes on some salads — and the rich aioli. The barbecue sauce was a little bland, but good with the tender pork shoulder, which also comes as a rotisserie dish.
The roasted cauliflower, available as a whole or half head, is great in theory and a nice option for vegetarians. In practice, however, I found it not quite cooked enough, so that the florets were tender but didn’t get any flavor or texture from caramelization; the stems inside the cauliflower were somewhat underdone. More seasoning on the outside and a little more blast of heat would have helped this vegetable live up to its promise.
Both the roasted meats appear in other dishes on the menu. The chicken comes in a pillowy pita with bright pickled onion, cucumber, strongly briny green olives and lettuce — an excellent salad-like dish, though I’d have liked more of the veggies.
The veggie shortage is solved in the green goddess salad, with most of the same harmonious elements minus the flatbread. The Sactown harvest salad was more disjointed: I loved the delicate squash, but kale leaves, slightly yellowed, were so big and tough they were hard to eat. Farro was chewy and oddly tart.
In other vegetable dishes, I recommend the sides. Roasted beets, pretty and pink, were ultrasimple but well cooked and enlivened by red onion and fromage blanc. The grilled broccolini, crisp-tender, was more dressed up, with a lush beer cheese sauce and crispy garlic breadcrumbs.
That beer cheese sauce also shows up in a strong, velvety mac and cheese dish with mild Hatch chiles, and atop the Panic fries. The latter are quintessential drinking food, with a thick blanket of the cheese sauce over fries (many of which went soggy), chunks of pork and lots of bright red and pickled jalapeno chiles. You might want to bring a crowd for this one.
The rotisserie pork makes a second appearance in an overstuffed BBQ-style sandwich, with spicy slaw and barbecue sauce on a brioche bun. It fell apart a bit, but the flavor was good. A big burger, also on a brioche bun, was enormous, with fried onions and lots of cheese making for a towering meal. The kitchen grinds short rib, chuck, and brisket, and the result is beefy and rich.
The “double take” burger was a lot leaner: a vegan black-bean “falafel” patty on a wheat bun with a few too sprouts than seemed strictly necessary. It didn’t taste all that much like falafel, but the patty itself tasted beany and filling, though it tended to crumble.
Beer brats, coarse ground and salty, come from nearby V. Miller Meats and went well with the Panic mustard, and especially the hot-pink pickled onions. A dish of fish and chips, with the batter made from Track 7’s honey blonde ale Bee Line, were another more predictable taproom offering. The batter could have been lighter and crunchier; on my visit, the thick carapace leaned toward greasy and overwhelmed the delicate, flaky fish within.
The house beers are not only put to work in the kitchen but are front and center in the restaurant, with the list of tap offerings just as big as the menu. Track 7 has been a beer-scene stalwart since 2011, and its style is familiar by now to Sacramento hopheads. If you’re a beer drinker, you probably know whether you like their stuff, which leans toward big IPAs and experimentation with nontraditional ingredients, as in the Nukin’ Futz chocolate and peanut butter porter.
The servers behind the counter are well-trained on beer tastes and did a good job of picking out flights when we asked about specific styles. (My favorite of their offerings is the mellow Daylight amber ale.) Some service glitches detracted from the experience, though. Notably, on more than one visit items we ordered weren’t rung up or put into the kitchen. There was plenty of goodwill, however, in getting the forgotten dishes out quickly once we reordered.
The beer theme carries to the dessert menu, which includes a beer float. The peanut butter chocolate cake in a jar — called the Nukin’ Futz cake — boasted a gooey, excellent toasted-marshmallow top, but beneath was a bit goopy, flavors of the butterscotch pudding and the chocolate cake layer indistinct. I liked the malted barley cheesecake, which uses spent grain in the crust, better. It came with a layer of bright strawberry jam and hazelnuts on top and the malty crust beneath. One caveat on the cheesecake layer: It could have been better blended, as I encountered several lumps of unmixed cream cheese.
All the desserts, including a very sweet apple brown betty, come in narrow pint Mason jars, which made them a little hard to dig out; wide-mouth jars would have made it easier to access their distinct layers.
The Mason jars, however, are perfectly in line with the subtle rustic-farmhouse theme that runs through The Other Side. Is it the most exciting restaurant to open in Sacramento lately? Not at all — but it’s not trying to be. It is, instead, a likeable and pleasant venture into fast-casual food from a local brewery. In a town overrun with brewpubs, The Other Side puts a just-fresh-enough spin on the concept to entice beer drinkers (if not chickens) to cross the road.
The Other Side
5090 Folsom Blvd., 916-475-1875
Hours: 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m.-10 p.m. Saturday, 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Sunday
Beverage options: Ten handles for Track 7 beers in a wide range of styles, a few wine choices, and well-chosen nonalcoholic picks.
Vegetarian friendly: Yes, including the rotisserie menu, which offers big plate of roasted cauliflower.
Gluten-free options: Yes.
Noise levels: Loud inside when it’s full; the covered patio may be a quieter choice.
Ambiance: Softer-edged than your average beer joint, with a bright and welcoming air that’s made it a popular choice with families.
A solid fast-casual addition to the East Sac dining scene, The Other Side offers good roast chicken and beer-friendly fare in an easygoing environment. It won’t break new culinary ground, but you can get a reliably tasty meal.
Rotisserie chicken, moist and savory, is the comforting centerpiece here, along with roast pork. Salads and sandwiches, plus veggie sides and housemade pickles, lighten up a menu that also leans on the kind of snacks that go well with and often include beer: chips, fries (dressed and not) and bratwurst.
Behind the counter, staff is eager to please but service can be a bit chaotic despite the goodwill. We had forgotten items on several orders, and food came out at different times.
Prices are reasonable. A roasted chicken that could serve three or four people is $20, and most plates of hefty sandwiches are under $10. Appetizers, sides and desserts are $6 or less. Maybe the best value is beer, with many 3-ounce pours just $1.50 and full servings $6.