I’ve been putting the nom-nom on sliders at Sierra Gold for years. It’s my neighborhood bar, and the miniature burgers are a never-fail trio of fluffy buns, juicy beef, cheddar and signature tangy sauce melting together under the briny crunch of pickle. It’s simple. It’s tasty. It’s $9. It’s always “double meat.” And tiny sandwiches are just adorable.
When I heard that Sierra Gold locations across the Valley were tripling the slider options as part of a greater menu expansion, I vowed to try all six, backed up by the palate (and stomach) of Weekly Associate Editor Ken Miller.
We were greeted by PT’s Entertainment Group Regional Food and Beverage Manager Vinny Martano, who insisted we mix it up with a side of hot fries. Moments later, we were priming with the crispy potato goodness, seasoned sweet and spicy and disappearing way too fast. Then came the burgers, six beautifully layered little jewels. They usually come in orders of three, and though we were probably capable of downing that many (Ken and I once dominated in a pickle-eating contest), we went the demure route and split one of each.
Perfectly medium rare tenderloin (you pick your temperature) anchors the bite, and that deep flavor is kicked with peppered bacon, aged Wisconsin cheddar and mushrooms sautéed in white truffle oil. This is the Cadillac, and a holdover from the old menu. The flavor pleased, but Ken felt the chew of such a substantial piece of meat was too much work for a slider. Next time, I will happily eat his half.
Chili Cheese, $10
Any dish with the words “chili” and “cheese” usually requires a stack of napkins, but this tidy slider has just the right amount of beefy bean stew crowning more beef and mingling with a molten cheese sauce on a brioche bun. Ken was in heaven, remarking that with such good chili you can’t go wrong.
Roast Beef, $11
On onion brioche, beef patties are piled with roast beef, cheese sauce and crispy onion straws. It sounds delicious. But the onion bun had a striking sweetness that threw off the savory elements in a way not even fried onions and oozing cheese could fix. The roast beef was cooked just right, but it got lost in the rest of the sandwich.
The classic Sierra Gold slider has great balance of texture and taste, the secret sauce giving it a surprising zing and the caramelized onions making the beef richer. On a pillowy bun, it makes you think of White Castle, but it’s way better.
Pastrami Reuben, $11
Just like it sounds, this twist on the beloved sandwich tops beef with hot pastrami, Swiss, coleslaw and Thousand Island dressing on a pretzel bun. “This is the un-messiest Reuben ever,” Ken said. What he meant was that the ratios of dressing and slaw to meat were right on the money, the sturdiness of the pretzel bun keeping the potential mess together. I thought it might be my top choice, until ...
Green Chile, $11
Martano recommended this new bite as his favorite, overstuffed with Ortega chile, peppered bacon, greens, cheddar cheese, homemade green chile sauce and fresh pico de gallo. From the gleam of the brioche bun to the peppery crunch of bacon coming through bright notes of purple onion and tomato, it was a stunner. Even after all of the sampling, I could have eaten two more, no question.
Sierra Gold, multiple locations, www.pteglv.com.