On a night when grabbing a drink was definitely the first order of business, I was pleasantly surprised to see a small but diverse drink menu, with a variety of rye, gin, and vodka cocktails on offer. The bar was well-stocked, allowing for any number of libation-creations. A solid beer and cider list, with a range of craft beers as well as locally sourced ciders and ales, was another nice surprise.
My mood called for an amaretto sour, which was made fresh (no mix), and was refreshing and delicious. The others at my table ordered a gin and tonic (which was the best drink of the night, according to her) and a Tecate in the can.
With our drinks in hand, we moved on to the menu. The Slow Rhode menu is mainly small plates and app-sized portions, with a few large plates that are great for sharing. Combining a southern/Louisiana flair with small-plate culture is a larger feat than the portions, but Slow Rhode accomplishes it with style.
Looking through the menu, we decided to share a few options, opting first for the fries, gravy, and duck confit — a delightful play on poutine. The fries were perfectly crisp and not at all soggy; the gravy was rich, not overly salty, and full of herby flavors; and the duck confit was tender and delicious. Since the whole dish is doused in delicious gravy and meat, I’d highly recommend eating it with a fork — although eating with your hands is never something I actually discourage.
Next, we decided to check out some of the Louisiana-style cuisine, placing an order for their house gumbo made with duck confit, andouille, rice, and jalapeño peppers. As someone who has spent a fair amount of time in the Big Easy, my standards for gumbo are pretty high, but The Slow Rhode did not disappoint. The rice was perfectly cooked – not too crunchy, not too overdone — the andouille was fresh and spicy, the duck confit was again, tender and delicious, and the peppers were cooked down just enough to retain a kick but not be too spicy to enjoy.
If you can believe it, we then ordered another plate, although at this point, since the portions are actually fairly large and very, very rich, we were pretty full. We decided to finish our meal with a large plate, the rigatoni with braised beef and mushrooms. We may have in fact saved the best for last, as the pasta was homemade, the mushrooms were well-seasoned, and the beef, the star of the show, was so tender that it fell right off the fork. It was, in a word, phenomenal.
At last, we put down our forks, leaned back, and took deep, satisfied, food-coma breaths. From start to finish, from drinks to entrees, our experience was a special one. The Slow Rhode offers a comfortable environment with great music and notable ambiance, but above all, it offers fantastic food and drinks. Next time you hit the West Side, be sure to take the road less traveled – and with a menu that is diverse and always changing, you can check out the Slow Rhode again, and again, and again.