As the year comes to a close, it's fun to reflect on best and worst of everything. But while 2015 held a fair share of lows (see: The Monterey's closing, no James Beard nods in town) it also held a great deal of highs. One good note is the addition of Brigid to the Southtown area if not San Antonio as a whole. The first venture for chef Chris Carlson after leaving the Andrew Weissman Restaurant Group earlier this year, Brigid delivers on just about all fronts.
Having spent the better part of three decades largely unused, the space was turned into an industrial-chic nook that uses pleasant hues of blue and rich wood paneling. Since opening in early September, Brigid blends stark exposed walls, abstract artwork and a handful of well-placed windows to keep the space light, but formal. It uses its nooks and crannies effectively to create warmth and comfort — though you should avoid that first table during windy evenings.
It's also worth noting that when it comes to service, Brigid sits pretty with a dozen or so other fine dining restaurants for its nearly impeccable service. The servers aren't there to befriend you or imposed by you — these professionals are there to provide excellent, well-informed service. Hospitality done right, whether for lunch or dinner, is refreshing.
My official visits, one for lunch and another for dinner, were both pleasant. Lunch some weeks ago included a taste of both the sashimi of scallops and pickled melons, and house-cured salmon with red onions, capers and tart crème fraîche served with grilled bread. Both were fresh, light and delicate starters for the main course.
I veered into beefy territory with the steak sandwich, an early favorite for close friends, and I would have to agree. The house-baked baguette is rich and just-so toasty, while the touch of horseradish adds a bite to the medium steak and great fries. Get this if you're feeling famished.
But I was more impressed by Brigid come dinnertime this past Monday. The thing about Brigid, like Bohanan's and Bliss and Silo before it, is that the food might not lean toward the latest trend, but it does deliver solid flavors consistently. We began the night with the smoky pork belly and pickled apples and a bowl of the roasted butternut squash soup. Though the butternut was overpowered by a healthy dose of butter, the soup's beyond velvety texture and crème fraîche quenelle dollop on top, more than made up for it.
Entrees included the pan-roasted salmon and the pork chop on special. Though the salmon isn't something I'd usually order, my impeccably dressed dining companion (he gets bonus points for the suit and tie) was delighted with his order. The crispy and salty skin, made only more rich with the addition of salmon roe, was a nice complement to the perfectly cooked medium rare fish. I still wouldn't trade my pork chop, again prepared medium rare, and plated with all manners of demi swirls, dreamy mashed potato spreads, and dainty mushrooms. Even though I didn't make a reservation, the open kitchen counter tipped off a few cooks to my visit, which meant I got a tiny-add on to my plate — a charred leek "nest" and an over-easy quail egg. Juxtaposed comically next to my massive pork chop, the nest was an adorable touch.
Desserts meant ordering the butternut squash mousse (I was on a roll) with gingersnap crumbles and the sorbet trio of vibrant raspberry (also available with the chocolate tart, which you should definitely order), coconut and basil.
Yes, the bill was steeper than usual for most Wednesday nights (or weekends for that matter), but the experience was one I haven't had in quite some time. It's hard to find faults in near-perfect lighting, excellent service and solid execution. So I won't. Make Brigid your next special occasion dining destination, even if it means making up said festivities.
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