Brix is a relatively new restaurant on Airport, across from the Books A Million shopping center, in the old Luciano's location. They've advertised themselves as a tapas place, always with a kind of young professional party vibe, so I was anticipating a bar scene with munchies. Instead, when the hubby and I showed up for an early Saturday dinner, we found ourselves in a supremely relaxing fine dining establishment.
We were promptly seated and our server recited the special and took our drink orders with gusto. They serve coke products, to the exclusion of even Mr. Pibb, so I ordered a Roy Rogers instead and was happy to see that it was served in a tall glass, mixed properly, and endlessly refilled. The tapas section of the menu was loosely divided into two sections--one of small, more appetizer like tapas and one of larger, more meal like tapas. We decided to order two of each and settled on the cheese and fruit plate, sundried tomato spread with herbed flat bread, seared ahi tuna, and filet mignon. Once our order was placed, our server brought out focaccia bread along with a garlic infused oil and balsamic vinegar dip.
The focaccia was light, with a slightly crusty exterior, pre sliced into perfectly dippable pieces. In place of the standard herbs, the crust was dusted with sea salt and pepper which added a burst of flavor to the steadier flavor of the focaccia. The bread paired harmoniously with the oil and vinegar. The oil added a smooth flavor, the vinegar a sharp tang, and salt and garlic lent depth.
As we were delighting in the focaccia, our cheese and fruit plate came up. It was beautifully plated on a cheese board and our server took the time (without prompting) to list the various cheeses we were being presented with.
From left to right in the above photo, we had Camembert, Irish Cheddar, a blue cheese that I believe was a Fourme d'Ambert, and a local goat cheese drizzled with honey. The fruit was firm and deliciously ripe. My husband declared the strawberry the best one he had eaten all summer but my heart went to the the fresh, sweet blueberries. The cheeses were a broad sample of flavors. The Camembert was a firm mild cheese with a classicly "cheesy flavor" akin to a mild cheddar. The Irish Cheddar had a crumblier, drier texture than the Camembert with a sharply tangy flavor similar to a swiss cheese. The blue cheese was strikingly strong, but paired wonderfully with the crackers. The goat cheese was fresh and soft, perfectly complimented by the sweetness of the honey. The cracker assortment included sesame crackers and water crackers, I found that I preferred the strongly flavored goat and blue cheeses with the bolder sesame crackers and the more mild Camembert and cheddar on the water crackers.
Throughout the meal, our server was exceptionally on the ball--our drinks were never allowed to empty, plates were seamlessly cleared to allow for the next dish (a must at our small two up table)--however, I was surprised when she offered us more crackers to pair with our remaining cheese. Not because it didn't make sense (we happily took her up on the offer) but because it is something I so rarely see done.
As we finished the cheese and fruit, our sundried tomato spread came up.
The flatbread was lovely with an herby scent and a soft, malleable texture. The sundried tomato spread was tangy and salty and paired well with the herb bread. I was a bit disappointed that it did not have the characteristic flavor of sundried tomatoes, instead they mostly added a vibrant orange color.
Our larger tapas came up together. The seared ahi was served with a mustard vinaigrette and a house-made sriracha sauce.
I apparently hadn't been paying close attention to what we were ordering because the raw interior of the tuna pieces, (par for the course for ahi tuna) took me by surprise. The tuna had a with a supple texture and a light sesame taste. The vinaigrette lent a tanginess which balanced nicely with the fish. I tried a bit by itself and was surprised at how sharp it was on its own. I gave the sriracha a wide berth but the hubby declared it delicious and cleaned all traces off his side of the plate.
The fillet mignon (shown at the top of this post) was served with garlic mashed potatoes and local vegetables. I was underwhelmed by the choice of sides as garlic mashed potatoes and veggies are such a common accompaniment to steaks and are rarely anything to write home about. I was pleasantly surprised however, by the smoothness and depth of Brix's mashed potatoes. Red potatoes with bits of skin left in usually remind me of cafeteria food, however, the pieces of skin were small enough and the potatoes smooth enough that these completely escaped that association. The vegetables were outstanding. Locally sourced zuchini and summer squash were cut into long, thin strips, and grilled. The vegetables were crisp and flavored with the mushroom glaze used to unify the dish. For me, they were the star of the dish. The fillet was tender and flavorful but, for a fillet mignon, a bit on the coarse side.
We were just this side of overfull, so we chose not to have dessert, but their menu sounded amazing (a chocolate chip bread pudding, a chocolate cake...). They offer an extensive wine selection as well as a full bar. Our meal was relaxing, the dishes well balanced and executed, and the service top notch. The tapas concept makes fine dining more affordable--each "meal" tapas is half the size of a regular portion but makes a well proportioned meal in and of itself. (For example, 4oz is a single serving of meat and our fillet was 3.5 oz) We will back and next time, I'll make sure to save room for dessert.
Total for the meal: $57.56 (includes 4 tapas and two soft drinks)
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