As Neil Young said about the Sex Pistol’s Johnny Rotten, “Hey, Hey, my my, rock and roll will never die”. Well, for any one who wants to see that local rock in Orange County is not dead, the place to go is Fullerton’s Slidebar Rock and Roll Kitchen. Owner Jerry Popoff’s mission is keep the spirit of local band’s in Orange County alive. Even though L.A. claims some awesome bands over the years, Orange County gave birth to many also, including Social Distortion, Jackson Browne, No Doubt, Sugar Ray, Agent Orange, Dick Dale (King of the Surf Guitar), the Righteous Brothers and Sublime. And of course the contribution made in a small shop in Fullerton by Leo Fender, starting in 1948 and culminating in the Telecaster, Stratocaster and Mustang guitars as well as the Jazz Bass and Precision Bass cannot be overlooked. Jeremy was around for a lot of it and nine years ago created the Sliderbar as a way to keep OC’s rock spirit alive.
Monday night, the Slidebar Rock and Roll Kitchen held a media tasting for guests to sample some new dishes that are being introduced from the kitchen of from Chef Oge Dalken. Located in the historic downtown section of Fullerton, the Slidebar Rock and Roll Kitchen combines owner Jeremy’s homage to Orange County’s rich rock and roll history, along with Chef Oge Dalken’s extremely creative versions of several popular dishes. Chef Oge brings a 25 year culinary background to Slidebar. The Chef is a big proponent of locally supplied foods and beers, much as Jeremy is dedicated to supporting local music. Locally grown, responsibly raised and hormone free ingredients sourced locally are what Chef Oge looks for. “We’re calling it glamorous bar food,” commented Chef Dalken. “We’re treating burgers like the best steaks, incorporating organic and local. It looks beautiful and tastes beautiful.”
The tasting started off with the Slidebar’s Ahi Sliders. Using an excellent cut of ahi tuna, crusted in sesame seeds and then cooked to a perfect rare, many chefs would have stopped there, simply placing the delicious tuna on a small brioche bun. What elevates Chef Oge’s version, however, is the combo of a slightly tart Asian slaw, pickled ginger and a topping of wasabi mayo that has just enough wasabi to make your taste buds tingle. The contrast of elements such as tart, sweet, hot, soft, crunchy and cooling show Chef Oge to be a master at combining the various elements to make one delicious, cohesive dish. As was with all of the evening’s dishes, they were perfectly paired with matching beers and ales, such as the Clown Shoes Tramp Stamp Belgian IPA that accompannied the sliders.
The next dish to be served was a Coney Dog. Right before it was presented, Chef Oge to tell the Examiner a little about his history and the dish. He explained that the Coney is quite different from a chili dog, with the Coney Sauce that topped the all beef hot dog based more on a Greek Coney sauce that is the stsr hot dog topping in the Chef’s native Detroit. The hot dog itself was excellent, with a nice snap to the skin, but the Coney Sauce really did make it. Again, Chef Oge Dalken started off with a somewhat familiar item and put the spin of 25 year’s culinary experience on the dog, making his Coney Sauce unique with its flavors. Tobacco onions topped the dog, giving the dish a nice added crunch. On the side was a nice glass of Ninkasi Trappist Ale.
A dish of house-made macaroni and cheese arrived next. Once more, the Chef took a pedestrian dish and elevated it through his use of fontina as well as cheddar cheese, a nice bacon relish and just a hint of truffle oli. Topped with panko bread crumbs, this was an excellent version of the comford food favorite. A Chimay Trappist Ale, imported from Belgium, went amazingly well with the mac and cheese. The next dish was also a comfort food favorite, this time from Harlem by way of the South. A nice panko-crusted chicken breast was served with some umiqely delicious patato waffles. This was a dish to be eaten quickly, before the mushroom and chicken gravy softens the crunchy crust on the chicken and crispy waffles. A Pumpkin Ale with a crisp, smooth finish joined the chicken and waffles for a nice taste to cut somewhat the richness of the mushroom gravy.
A beef culotte steak, cooked to a perfect medium rare after being rubbed in the Chef’s special coffee and cocoa rub, came with a delicious sauce made from demi-glace, sundried bing cherries and stilton blue cheese. The Dijon mashed potatoes showed admirable restraint, with just enough Dijon mustard to add a touch of something different. A Golden Road Get Up Off That Brown Ale gave a nice, hearty flavor to go with the steak.
For dessert, something was brought out which the concept was not very believable. The Banana Bread Beer Float consisted of Wells Banana Bread Beer, a scoop of French Vanilla ice cream and a nice slice of fried plantain. About three sips into the float, the concept that beer and ice cream went completely away, allowing the dessertt to be enjoyed for what it was, which was a delicious combination of flavors. Chef Oge has come up with possibly one of the most creative, unsual and delicious desserts ever.
When I talked with Chef Oge, it was mentioned that one of his appetizers on the regular menu, the duck nachos, sounded really delicious. Chef Oge told me, “Some people think it sounds weird, but if they didn’t know, they would think that the duck confit used was actually carnitas, since the cooking method is similar. Those who like duck really enjoy it!”. Chef Oge proceeded to tell the Examiner that he would bring a dish of it to the table. What arrived was a simply fabulous dish, combining familiar elements with some that many may not be familiar with but really should be. Tortilla chips, black beans, queso fresco and a white cheddar cheese sauce are right on the traditional style of nachos, but Chef Oge takes it up another step. The meat, a spicy duck confit, is delicious, tender and flavorful, the pineapple adds a nice touch of sweetness to the dish and the mango habanero salsa is strictly addicting, coming on mild, getting hot but then leaving you wanting more salsa on the next bite. This dish is something everyone should ask for and try, even if you have not had duck before. Duck lovers will love it and people who have not tried duck or didn’t like it before should give this dish a try. It’s a rock and roll fantasy of different flavors and certainly way above any other nacho dish you can find.
“We have always supported local music at Slidebar,” notes Jeremy Popoff. “Chef Dalken’s new menu furthers our passion for bringing out the best in Orange County. He’s created a menu full of delicious food incorporating locally grown ingredients. We’re coming full circle by celebrating local music as well as cuisine.” In fact, there are very few places to go where you can hear quality music after enjoying delicious food. It is very easy to enjoy some of the Slidebar’s delicious dishes and beers and then walk into the stage room, where groups like the Continental, a local rock and roll band who are playing there on October 10th, showing that rock and roll is still alive in Orange County. Practically every night there is a featured act, from tribute bands to all types of original rock sounds. Jeremy and Oge certainly are doing their part to support local food growers and purveyors as well as local musicians and with Chef Oge Dalken’s creative delicious menu, the Slidebar Rock and Roll Kitchen has become a great place to come for creative, delicious food with a side of dynamite music.
Slidebar Rock and Roll Kitchen
122 E. Commonwealth Avenue
Fullerton, CA 92832
Ph: (714) 871-7469