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Orange Cosmopolitan 

Sidney Street Cafe, 2000 Sidney Street, 314-771-5777

You should probably take a shower before you go to the Sidney Street Cafe, because it's a pretty nice restaurant, and everybody else sitting at the front bar seems quite clean. The ladies on their way to see The Full Monty at the Fox, they're dolled up. The gentleman reading Paul Theroux and enjoying a lowball: clean. Even the GPC smoker seems to smell of roses. The unkempt will stand out. This isn't to say that the Cafe, considered by many hardcore carnivores to be one of the top highbrow eateries in town (meat is the Cafe's specialty), is uptight, because it is not. Although packs of Lexuses and Benzos hog the choice spots outside and quiet string quartets float from speakers above, you'll hear bar conversation about The Drew Carey Show, and the servers are wearing a plaid bowtie/suspender combination that we wouldn't wish on our worst enemy. This is, after all, South City (Benton Park, to be exact); you can take the neighborhood out of the restaurant, but you can't take the restaurant out of the neighborhood.

Still, before you go, you should brush your teeth.

Peggie Conley makes a very nice orange Cosmopolitan, served in a martini glass: Stoli Ohranj vodka, cranberry juice, a touch of Cointreau, a splash of Rose's lime and an orange twist, the oil of which leaves a slick on the pale-crimson surface. The first taste will be wasted, of course, as the flavors battle with the toothpaste mint in the mouth. The Cosmo will prevail, though, and as the second sip washes through your mouth, nothing overwhelms. Citrusy, yes, and cut with cranberry, which tempers the flavor with a touch of twang. The Rose's adds more depth, and the orange twist makes for a delicate visual contrast. Savor it. Your buds are now fully attuned to what is ultimately a subtle, soothing drink, and a perfect teaser for dinner -- "contemporary American and continental cuisine" -- here.

Be forewarned: Owing to its status as one of the city's swankest establishments, the Sidney Street Cafe gets crazy on weekends. The limousine jams alone are pretty harrowing. But the restaurant is calmer on a Wednesday or Thursday, and you'll be treated with all the affection you so obviously deserve. So pay attention to the orange Cosmopolitan in kind; it's a winner, and we recommend getting gussied up to drink one.

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