Monday, March 13, 2006

25/$25 Dinner @ Brasa

Dinner here on Sunday was good, but not stellar. It was clear that the portion for the 25/$25 promotion are scaled-down from their regular menu - generally I don't mind, as long as I feel I'm still getting good value. At time, Brasa felt like they were pushing their luck...

Inside, Brasa is warmly decorated with booths along the outside wall, an open kitchen, and lots of dark colours. The overall ambience is fairly posh, but inviting and intimidating. For some reason our table had no table-cloth, which I thought was a bit tacky. Some tables are wood, and lookd OK without a cloth; ours wasn't wood.

Service generally was excellent. SLightly irritating was that they left 4 or 5 empty wine glasses on the table until quite late in the meal. I was even served a glass of wine which was put down right next to an empty glass for my setting... A waiter brought out appetizers and gave them to the wrong diner, which is not something you expect in a fancy place like this...

Food-wise, everything I tasted was good to very good. We were served really nice crunchy bread with very fruity olive oil to use for dipping. The 25/$25 menu works like this: you get to pick any starter and main course on the main menu that is marked (with a cute piggy icon). So the choice is very good compared to the average 25/$25 restaurant which usually offer 3 options for each course.

I had the Mediterranean mussels, and then poached black cod. The mussels were very small, and I think I had all of 8 in my bowl, but they were very tasty! Alyssum had a really interesting tomato and orange soup, followed by good wild mushroom risotto. (The presentation for her risotto was a bit sad). Others had the strip steak (which looked very good and was the most generous portion served at our table). One of us ordered the carpaccio for a starter, and finished it in 3 bites, again a victim of the tiny portions.

For dessert I was disappointed to see there were only 2 options for 25/$25 diners, both quite similar: a mascarpone cheesecake with pistacchio crust, or frozen lemon mousse. Waah! No cheese option. (There is an impressive-looking cheese selection when you walk into the restaurant - reserved for higher-paying guests, no doubt).

I had a great glass of white wine: billed on the wine list as Big House White 2003 Ca' Del Solo. I thought this might be Spanish, but Googling it now I see it actually Boony Doon Ca' del Solo from California. (2004 vintage info here). The 2003 was nice and refreshing, with a mineral tang, good acids and a firm but smooth finish. The wine list is very good, with a nice wine-by-the-glass selection, some interesting Spanish wines, and a "Cliff Notes" section with several wines around $30.

Overall, this was worth the money and I'd recommend trying Brasa during the 25/$25 promotion. Assuming the portions are normal-size when you pay full price, they're worth checking out outside the promotion too, although this is on the more expensive end ($15-ish for starters, $30 for mains, $10 for dessert)

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