Brasserie Brightwell Brightens Days
Aug 15, 2011 06:31PM ● Published by Anonymous
Upon our arrival, we marveled at the décor of the French-inspired restaurant. It’s a converted auto-body shop, and the walls are a combination of exposed brick and subway tile. There is just the right amount of French décor on the walls, but not a lot of clutter like we sometimes see. In short, our first impressions were good before we even walked in. The outside of the building is whimsical and surrounded on the front by a large patio, with ample seating. There is a long outside bar, and we found out later that the owners plan on having live music on Friday and Saturday nights and Sunday afternoon.
The entrance through the bar gave us a view of the most amazing back bar we have ever seen. A giant carved cabinet holds all of the glassware and bottles for service, and guests can sit at the bar or one of several high-top tables in the bar area. The hostess greeted us and led us through a short hallway, lined on one side with a floor-to-ceiling wine rack, used for storage of the many types of wine on the menu, into what must have been the garage bays back in the day when car repairs were on the menu, rather than food. One side of the room has large garage doors that open to the outside during the summer months. Two of the other walls host the cook’s counter, where one can sit and dine while watching food be prepared, and a raw bar with a variety of seafood.
We took our seats at a table topped with a white linen cloth and white butcher’s paper. Once we settled in, we really felt like we had been whisked across the ocean to a neighborhood brassiere in France. The atmosphere is definitely there, no question about it. If the attention to detail in making the food is anything like the attention to detail in creating the atmosphere, we knew we were in for a treat.
Our server, Parris, introduced herself soon after we were seated and took our drink orders. Doug chose the BB Good Bloody ($10) while Christine was intrigued by the Sal et Peppar Martini ($8.50). The BB Good Bloody, Brasserie Brightwell’s version of a Bloody Mary, was nicely seasoned with whole peppercorns and horseradish, while the Sal et Peppar Martini had a zesty kick and was served in a salt-rimmed martini glass with blue cheese olives. The younger guests in our group, Rory, Zion, and Molly, enjoyed drinks from the soda fountain, as well as Hanks Root Beer.
Parris told us of the evening’s specials and answered any of our questions about the items on the menu. Rory and Zion had never experienced frog legs before, so we were compelled to branch out and try a new cuisine. Therefore, frog legs ($8) were one of the small plates we ordered. Looking and sounding tasty were the Vietnamese Spring Rolls ($7), so we asked Parris to add some of those to our list. We wanted to have a little bit of seafood, therefore the Oak Wood Fire Grilled Clams ($8) were a fine choice.
Shortly before our appetizers arrived, we ordered our entrees. Molly was eyeing the Steak Frites ($14) ordered medium-well, while Zion ordered the Grilled Fish du Jour, which happened to be salmon ($21). Rory, who loves a good burger, wanted to experience the BB Burger ($11.50), and Christine had her heart set on the Grilled Whole Trout ($15). This can be served with or without the head. Doug, who had not had lamb in a while, was more than happy to order Lamb Steak ($19). Doug and Christine also ordered a Market Salad ($6.50) to split, which the kitchen was more than happy to do.
Our appetizers arrived, and we passed plates and enjoyed the starters. Though the boys ordered the frogs legs, we all took a taste. These uniquely French appetizers were tasty and accompanied with a white cream sauce offering a sophisticated flavor. Our Spring rolls were served fresh and crunchy, stuffed with a combination of sautéed red pepper, carrot, and pork. There was a subtle hint of spicy Vietnamese flavoring. Finally, the Oak Wood Fire Grilled Clams were a treat. The breadcrumb topping was lightly seasoned and served with buttery béarnaise sauce for dipping or drizzling.
The salad arrived shortly before dinner. This was a simple salad of mixed greens, croutons, blue cheese, and Champagne vinaigrette. Molly’s dinner, a six-ounce sirloin was delicious and served to order. It was juicy and topped with a buttered herb sauce. The frites were hand cut and perfect. Zion enjoyed analyzing and informing us about his dinner. He really enjoyed his baked salmon served medium-rare. It was delicately seasoned and served with garlic-herb butter. Rory’s magnificent burger was served as ordered medium-rare, with all the toppings. There was brie, ham, and mustard Crème Fraiche—no ordinary burger. Christine’s grilled trout made a beautiful presentation. The flaky trout was baked and gently seasoned so that the true flavor could be enjoyed. Doug was so pleased with his choice of lamb steak. It was an upper portion of the leg served as ordered, rare. The steak was seasoned with basic seasonings of salt and pepper. Each bite was savored. All of our entrees were served with house-made fries with an herb seasoning instead of the standard salt.
The BB Burger is served topped with ham, brie, and creme fraiche.
The Market Salad features blue cheese and champagne vinaigrette.
As always, there was room for dessert. Molly enjoyed the Crème Brulẻe. This sweet caramelized dessert is always a good choice. Both Zion and Rory wanted the Jesse’s Pound Cake served with lemon curd and strawberries, and they enjoyed this more-than-ample dessert. Christine and Doug sampled the Smith Island Cake Cupcake. This was different than the multi-layered cake known as Smith Island Cake. It was rich with chocolate, like soft fudge, sprinkled with non-pareils and cocoa powder on homemade whipped cream. All desserts are $5.50.
Once again we have found a charming restaurant in the heart of Easton. We all agreed that Brasserie Brightwell has a bright future excellent food and atmosphere along with well-trained and attentive staff. We expect it will be packed with patrons most days, particularly when the weather is nice and the outdoor bar and patio can be put to use. We look forward to making the trek again and sitting outdoors, enjoying some live music!
206 North Washington Street, Easton
When to Enjoy:
11:30 a.m.-closing time varies, Wednesday to Sunday
Closed Monday and Tuesday
Expect to pay:
Sandwiches and Salads: $6.50–18
Doug O’Connor has more than years of experience as an executive chef and a food and beverage director and is involved with the Chesapeake Chef’s Association. He graduated from Johnson and Wales University with degrees in Culinary Arts and Food Service management. Christine graduated from Johnson and Wales with a degree in Hospitality Management. They currently reside in Cape St. Clare, Maryland, with their two children.