After Chef Gerard Craftconquered St. Louis with his modern "New American" Niche and before he unveiled Pastaria, he opened Brasserie by Niche. The upscale but casual French restaurant is located in the Central West End, right next to Taste by Niche. High ceilings and old French posters give it a rustic feel. Red checkered tablecloths are topped with brown butcher paper, which is perfect for playing hangman while you wait for your food or sending old fashioned texts (I believe they were called "notes").
The table bread (called pain d'epi, meaning "wheat stalk bread") is left right on the table. No bread baskets here! I tried to be strong and not eat mine, but I failed miserably. Carbs: 1, Me: 0. Look at how crunchy that bread is.
When I lived in Singapore, my Brazilian boss introduced me to Bacalhau, or salted Cod. I didn't imagine I would like it, but for the fourth time in my life, I was wrong. I loved it. When I saw that Brasserie had Brandade ($9.75) made with house-salted cod, potato, garlic and toast, I knew I needed to try it. I know that a salted fish and potato dip doesn't sound particularly appetizing, but I promise you it is good. The texture is close to buttery mashed potatoes, but the flavor slightly fishy, slightly salty and very garlicky. It was destroyed by our table.
Most people seem to recommend Brasserie's Roasted Chicken ($22.95) with mushrooms, bread and jus. Do you think it seems a bit strange that so many people would recommend roasted chicken? That means you haven't had it. I too was a skeptic, but it is with good reason that the masses love it. Using some sort of black magic, the chefs at Brasserie have created the juiciest chicken ever cooked. Plus it comes out in its own little cast iron pan.
For my main, I picked the Trout ($21.75) with cauliflower, almonds, capers and brown butter. It was a beautifully plated and flavorful dish. The trout's meat was soft and the skin was deliciously crispy, but not at all oily. The dish had a very Mediterranean taste to me and helped to make me not feel so bad about the bread I'd eaten earlier in the meal. It was also nice to see a restaurant make trout that wasn't just crusted in a million almonds. There's more to trout than amandine!
In a battle between the dishes, I would have to go with the chicken.
Generally speaking, I am not a fan of French food. I last went to Brasserie nearly 3 years ago, but I enjoyed it then. That, plus having faith in Gerard Craft and his army of talented chefs, I decided to check out the Brasserie again and I don't regret it. The atmosphere is nice, the servers were friendly and the food was very good. It'd be a nice spot for a date night or group dinner.
Some things I'd like to try there: the goat cheese tart, the steak tartare, the onion soup, the Brasserie burger and cherry almond tart.
If I lived closer, I'd probably be there quite often.
Unfortunately, for me to get there I have to pass Pastaria first...and that's a lot to ask.
4580 Laclede Avenue
St. Louis, MO 63108