Tuesday, June 5, 2012

brasserie by niche (3) - st. louis

brasseriebyniche.com
4580 laclede avenue
st. louis, mo 63108

it is hard for me to believe that it has been almost two years since my one and only dinner at chef gerard craft's brasserie. prior to pat likes to eats inception, carrie and i enjoyed a terrific dinner at the restaurant and although we have been back for both lunch (no longer offered) and brunch, another dinner at brasserie has been long overdue. when planning a night out in st. louis, craft's central west end outpost has often come up as an option, but for one reason or another has continually been passed over. in fact, the reason for our return was my mother's birthday celebration, and it was her that suggested brasserie.
as the family valeted the car and approached the restaurant, it was immediately clear that we had picked a perfect night to dine at brasserie. with the temperature being very mild and comfortable, the restaurants large front doors were swung wide open, creating a nice flow from the indoor portion of the restaurant to the outdoor patio. after settling into our seats, the five of us unfolded the paper menus, and a round of cocktails was ordered shortly thereafter.
pictured left is the kentucky swizzle, a concoction made with 4 roses bourbon, benedictine, maple syrup, lime, and soda. this was a decent drink, although i felt the tartness of the lime was a bit too prominent, throwing the overall flavor profile off balance. carrie's cocktail was the parisian, which consisted of aperol, lillet blanc, and champagne.
arriving just after the cocktails was warm freshly baked bread with butter. although relatively simple, the bread definitely hit the spot, and the butter was nice on its own and even better with a touch of salt.
my meal began with the goat cheese tart, a decision that was difficult to make given the other choices, but proved to be a good move. served with bitter greens and shaved fennel, the pastry was terrific with a light fluffy texture and appropriately sour goat cheese flavor.
for carrie, it was again the frisee salad that began her meal. with thick and salty bacon lardons, a perfectly poached egg, and a bacon vinaigrette, carrie claims this salad was as good as she remembered.
to go with our starters, a bowl of gougeres was also ordered. possessing the prototypical chez-it-esque flavor gougeres are known for, these went quickly and were thoroughly enjoyed by everybody. 
moving along to the mains, i along with my father opted for the boeuf bourguignon with mushrooms, onions, bacon lardons, and potato puree. this offering was a knockout, as the beef was tender and flavorful and each other component certainly pulled its weight. i particularly liked the use of the bacon lardons.

if mussels are on the menu, there is a good chance carrie is ordering them. served in a white wine sauce with frites on the side, these were everything that she hoped for.
for my dessert choice, it had to be the floating island. this is a classic french dessert consisting of meringue sitting atop creme anglaise. it is light, sweet, creamy, fluffy, and absolutely delicious. unfortunately, brasserie is the only place i have ever gotten to try this dessert, and as such have no basis for comparison. this fact is something i hope to rectify post haste :-)
being that they are a long time favorite of hers, carrie predictably went for the profiteroles to end her meal. these were served with chocolate sauce on the side and i was not allowed even a single bite! they are apparently that good!

to put it bluntly, waiting as long as we did to revisit brasserie was completely stupid. the atmosphere is great, the staff has always been friendly, and the food is terrific french bistro fare. i can say without hesitation that meals at brasserie will occur much more frequently going forward, and i can't wait to try chef craft's italian themed pastaria as soon as it opens this summer.

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