Americans may have a slightly skewed perception of tapas. The Spanish style of eating (Andalusian in origin) involves a small plate of food served at a bar specifically to accompany drinks. Our interpretation is something more along the lines of making a meal at a restaurant out of appetizers. One permutation of the American philosophy on tapas is sliders. However, just as we were somewhat off in our understanding of tapas, so is Sliderbar off in their attempt at sliders.
Sliderbar has a casual atmosphere that works best as a relatively quick lunch destination or a happy hour stop for drinks and food after work. The décor of the restaurant and bar makes it relatively cozy, so it is easier to overlook the fact that the small space can certainly get cramped.
Unfortunately, any redeeming aspects of the vibe are trumped by the subpar menu. In general, all of their beef options are weak. The American Classic Slider, for example, is a disaster. It lacks flavor almost entirely and ultimately ends up resembling a savory Twinkie as mayonnaise oozes through the perforation in the top of the bun created by the wooden pick. The same is true of the Double Cheeseburger Slider – it’s just a larger version of its Classic cousin that is physically more difficult to eat. The Kobe Beef Slider is disappointing as well and is demonstrative of Sliderbar’s failure to understand how to bring out the savory, tender aspects of meat.
Sliderbar performs poorly with its non-beef options, too. For example, despite the powerful ingredients, the California Chicken Slider manages to completely underwhelm in terms of flavor. Neither the garlic, ginger or chipotle come through at all – only a bland, forgettable slider is left in their place. The All Natural Italian Sausage Slider Dog is chewy with a flavor similar to a cheap hotdog purchased at the grocery store; even the tsunami of relish can’t cover up poor quality meat. The Vegetarian Slider is a waste. The patty is shockingly dry and makes the dish difficult to eat, given its displeasing mouth-feel. And while the Serrano Chili Southwestern Slider has a bit of a spicy kick to it, there is nothing to compliment the Serrano chili flavor, leaving the burger as more of a tease of what could have been.
Not all of the sliders were complete misfires, but none were outstanding. The Mediterranean Slider, for example, has good flavor to it, but the proportions are a bit off; the lamb patty is delicious, but so large that it overwhelms any of the surrounding flavors, which in turn allows the cheese to impart a particularly heavy feel to the burger without providing much of the subtle feta flavor. The Marinated Portobello Slider is also somewhat enjoyable. The savory mushroom provides a delectable substitution for meat that is well-complimented by the sweetness of the caramelized onions and the balsamic vinegar. The Memphis Style Natural Pulled Pork BBQ Slider is one of their stronger dishes with a nice, sweet and tangy BBQ sauce that is not too heavy, but it hardly holds up to the dedicated BBQ restaurants in the surrounding area for purists on a quest.
The excitement underlying an establishment like Sliderbar is the ability to avoid commitment and try a little bit of everything; five sliders is a manageable feat allowing a good sampling of the whole menu. But when so few dishes deliver anything worth noting, the experience unravels, and you become forced to order from a limited set of mediocre options. If you need the fun of sundry tastes, consider tapas at Joya. If you’re in the mood for a solid hamburger, try The Counter. If you’re thinking of Sliderbar, “don’t bother.”