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Gourmet Bar Food: 8 Elevated Takes on Classic Snacks

By Kelly Dobkin
January 27, 2014

Super Bowl Sunday is just around the corner, and in its honor, we're taking a look at some of the ways chefs are reinventing classic bar-food snacks in gourmet settings across America. From Buffalo-style frogs' legs to compressed bar-nut crackers, check out some of these elevated bar-food-inspired dishes below.

  • Pork rinds with chile and lime at CBD Provisions, Dallas, Texas

    Chef Michael Sindoni puts his gourmet spin on this down-home bar snack at his farm-to-fork eatery next to Dallas' Joule Hotel. First, he boils the pork skin for about an hour. Once done, they're chilled on a sheet tray. The skin is then scraped of fat, diced and dehydrated and deep-fried to order, then topped with dehydrated lime zest, a mix of lime juice and salt that's been premixed into a paste and then dried. Then the rinds are finished with a sprinkle of spicy Aleppo pepper.

  • Buffalo frog's legs, Pinot Provence, Costa Mesa, CA

    A spin on the usual Buffalo wing, this Orange County eatery swaps in the traditional French delicacy, frogs' legs, for chicken every Friday for this $5 happy-hour special. Unlike the classic chicken wing, the Buffalo-style frogs' legs are leaner, delicate and served lollipop-style for easier eating and dipping. Served with Roquefort dressing, beurre blanc-sriracha and crème faîche-dill aïoli, the thoughtful, quality ingredients upgrade the ubiquitous (and often highly processed) bar snack.

  • Compressed bar-nut crackers, The Catbird Seat, Nashville, TN

    Bar nuts made into a cracker = genius. At this hot-ticket Nashville eatery that operates without a menu, you never know quite what you're going to get. Chef Trevor Moran first processes various nuts (cashews, almonds, peanuts, etc.) until the nuts are chopped finely. They he adds egg whites, sugar, rosemary and spices until the mixture is paste-like, similar to cookie dough. The paste is then rolled out flat onto a baking sheet until very thin and baked. The end result makes for a unique pre-first-course. 

  • Crispy chicken wing lollipops with agrodolce, Sotto 13, NYC

    In this playful Italian-inspired interpretation of the classic Buffalo chicken wing, chef Ed Cotton batters five frenched semi-boneless chicken wings, fries them until crispy, then tosses them in a sweet and sour sauce called agrodolce, a mixture of vinegar, sugar, mustard, ground fennel seeds, chopped jalapeño and orange juice that have all been reduced to a syrupy consistency. The wings are lightly tossed in this glaze then garnished with some chopped chives, radishes and herbs.

  • Photo by: Jen Olsen

    Crispy fried pickles with green goddess aïoli, Acorn, Denver, CO

    The hip small plates served at Denver's Acorn offers eclectic takes on comfort-food classics, including the popular Southern bar snack, fried pickles. Here, executive chef Steven Redzikowski upgrades the usual by lightly frying the pickles until crispy and serving them with an herbaceous green goddess aïoli. 

  • Green chile chicken wing, Kirkland Tap & Trotter, Boston, MA

    You don't have to be in Denver to utilize a local Denver favorite, green chiles. Chef Tony Maws offers a Western take on the classic chicken wing with a hit of spice from the chiles and acid from the lime juice. First, the wings are twice fried: blanched in fat, then fried again to order, then tossed in a fire-roasted green chile sauce that has aïoli added in for texture and creaminess. The wings are then topped with toasted and chopped pumpkin seeds (pepitas), cotija cheese, cilantro and lime.

  • Cod 'n' chips, Brave Horse Tavern, Seattle, WA

    Tom Douglas, the chef who was one of the early innovators of Pacific Northwest cuisine, serves an array of high-quality bar-food-inspired dishes at his gastropub Brave Horse Tavern in Seattle. Here, he updates a classic Seattle bar dish, fish 'n' chips, by using Alaskan true cod, dill pickle tartar and an apple-cabbage slaw.

  • Lamby joes, Jonesy's EatBarDenver, CO

    This craft-beer-focused gastropub in Denver switches up the usual sloppy joe ingredients in its "Lamby Joe." Using high-quality local Colorado lamb, the sandwich is stopped with bacon, caramelized onions and blue cheese. 

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