Saturday, March 29, 2008


We were on our way home last night when the co-signer mentioned stopping some place for a bite to eat. Earlier in the week I had read a review of a Kirkland wine bar and restaurant that intrigued me so it was off to Brix we went. Unfortunately, I hadn't remembered either the name or the exact location of the restaurant. We spent a little time searching for it, but not that much time. I recalled that it was on 100th St. near the waterfront and that was all the co-signer needed to guide us to the area and to spot the restaurant.

I did recall from the review that Brix had a nice bar, served mixed drinks as well as wine, and had reasonably priced, tasty food. On these points I was not disappointed. We were there fairly early and so could have had a choice of several tables. Instead we opted for the bar which I think was the best choice. Our bartender, despite being quite busy, did not make us wait long before taking our order. She kept an eye on us and came once we put down the wine list and looked prepared to order. The co-signer ordered a Manhattan, which was prepared very well - just the right amount of bitters. I ordered a glass of "The Ghost of 413" by the Giant Wine Company. The Seattle Times had given that wine a good review. The generous pour of wine began promising, offering a nice bouquet that hinted at black cherries. Upon first taste the wine offered up plenty of fruit, quite nice. However, soon the fruit dissapated and left a slightly chalky aftertaste. "The Ghost" portion of it's name is certainly correct as it's flavors leave the mouth fairly quickly and one begins to wonder if they were really there in the first place. Still, a nice wine if not a satisfying one.

The bartender asked me how I felt about the wine. In essence, I passed along the above review. She then asked me what kind of wine I like and I explained that I like a range of wines for different occassions, but that I was looking for something more satisfying - with fruit that would linger more. She suggested that I try an Aussie wine by Tait called The Ball Buster. It certainly earns it's name. The wine, like The Ghost, is mostly syrah. However, The Ball Buster is lush and oppulent, full of fruit with flavors of blackberry and cassis. It's nose let's you know that you're in for a big flavor and the mouth doesn't disappoint. I was surprised to read at the link above that the wine was high in alcohol as I certainly couldn't gather that when I was tasting it. Later, the bartender tells me that's her favorite wine by the glass that she sells. It's certainly delicious.

We opted to order small appetizer plates for dinner. It offers us a light meal to share. Increasingly, this is how we enjoy eating when we go out. All too often restaurants serve entrees that are too large to eat in one sitting without feeling like an extra trip to the gym was going to be needed before breakfast the next day. To add insult to injury those same restaurants charge an exhorbitant price to go along with that doggie bag meal that is almost always a pale imitation of what might have been the previous night's fantastic meal. So, for us, it's nice to dip our tastebuds into a few well prepared appetizers and enjoy the ride home comfortably.

In this instance, Brix scores well. First of all, they have many appetizers from which to choose. Those range from something simple, such as a cheese and fruit tray, to something more substantial, such as the crab mac and cheese, and to salads. We chose the pear salad with bleu cheese and candied walnuts, the seared scallops with orange anjous and mashed potatoes, and the aforementioned crab mac and cheese. Before our orders arrived the bartender brought us a small basket of bread - foccacia flavored lightly with rosemary and served with thyme infused olive oil. It was a simple beginning full of flavor. The salad arrived next. It surprised me that the pear had been run over a mandoline and cut into tiny, thin strips. At first I didn't recognize the pear for what it was. Only when it hit my palate along with the mixed greens and bleu cheese did I realize what those strips were. It was a very good salad and the candied walnuts were done well (ie, not overly sugared).

The crab mac and cheese and the scallops arrived next. To the wait staff and kitchen's credite, these items did not arrive while we were eating the salad. To have 3 plates at the bar would have been too much. Instead, our next appetizers arrived just after we finished our salad. Three scallops of medium to large size were served on a long rectangular plate at the other end of which sat a wave of mashed potatoes that had washed up there leaving a trail in it's wake of potatoes and orange anjous. The scallops sliced easily and were seared perfectly. Brushing them through the orange anjous and picking up a bit of potatoes provided my mouth with wonderful pleasures. I've had (and prepared) scallops with some sort of orange sauce before. The addition of potatoes to this dish mellowed out all of the flavors and pulled them together. It was a nice touch.

The crab mac and cheese was definitely delish. A creamy cheese sauce that was light and tasty smothered the elbow pasta. A generous portion of crab accompanied the dish - just enough to enjoy the flavor and not so much that it overwhelmed. We noticed a small bit of crab shell in the dish as we enjoyed it, so be forewarned.

So, the meal was fine, the drinks were good and the wait staff was knowledgable and properly attentive. What about the atmosphere? It was very nice. The ceiling was a bit high which lent to a spacious feeling, but also added to the noise level. Still, I didn't feel it was overly noisy. Rather, I felt it was more like a nice neighborhood meeting spot. The co-signer noted that while we were there Brix was mostly occupied by women or couples. Men, as pairs, were not the norm. I enjoyed eating at the bar. We struck up conversations with not only the bartender, but a couple of locals, also adding to the neighborhood feel of the place. If I decide to order an entree in the future, a table might be nice, but there's enough room at the bar to enjoy such a dish and mix it up with the regulars.

I liked Brix and would certainly recommend it to anyone - not just wine lovers. Oh, and on that note, Brix's wines by the bottle menu is nice. I've seen better lists with a wider range of selections, but there's plenty on here to enjoy and you'll probably find something that would please you. Don't expect to find a well-aged Leonetti. All of the wines that I saw were under $100/bottle with the vast majority being in the $40 - $70 range.

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