Executive chef Travis Strickland of the 2-year-old Baltaire steakhouse in Los Angeles draws from his love of global cuisine and his experience working at the legendary Blackberry Farm in Walland, Tennessee, when sourcing fresh, local produce for his veggie-inspired sides. He serves crispy Brussels sprouts with Thai chili and peanuts and roasted multi-colored cauliflower with an Indian Vadouvan curry spice–blend and golden raisins.
“For the roasted cauliflower dish, we wanted to play up the versatility of cauliflower while also showcasing the vibrant colors and texture you get when roasting it,” says Strickland, who first cuts the whole head into florets and blanches separately by color. He then roasts them until browned and adds the Vadouvan spice with a little vegetable stock to coat. “It’s no secret that curry and cauliflower play well together, but we wanted to introduce a more subtle, pleasing spice by using the milder French Vadouvan. Along with plumped golden raisins, crispy almonds, fried capers, and a lime yogurt, you have this really nice harmony of salty, sweet, and acid—and a texture that I just love.”
Similarly, executive chef Megan Logan of Nick + Stef’s, which has locations in New York City and Los Angeles, replaces straightforward green beans with Szechuan-style long beans, tossing the lightly steamed beans in a classic garlic-ginger-soy sauce spiked with spicy pink peppercorns and brown sugar, for a touch of sweetness.
While mashed, twice-baked, and au gratin potatoes make a regular showing at traditional steakhouses, today’s chefs are playing around with other starchy supplements to augment their steaks. For an au gratin–like variation, Chef Neflas of BOA swaps the potatoes for house-made gnocchi, tossed with Alaskan king crabmeat in a black truffle–infused cream sauce, that’s topped with breadcrumbs and Parmesan cheese before being crisped in the broiler.
At Urban Farmer—a farm-to-table steakhouse with locations in Cleveland, Philadelphia, and Portland, Oregon—Chef Matt Christianson transforms twice-baked potatoes into a tart with aged Cheddar, bacon, and chives.
Chef Sean Brasel at Meat Market in Miami, reaches back to childhood memories for his Gouda tater tots. To make the dish, he roasts and shreds russet potatoes, folds in the cheese, and forms the mixture into mini-cylinders before dusting in cornstarch and frying until brown.
Once almost an afterthought, starters and sides at modern steakhouses have as much prestige on the plate as the steaks they pair alongside.