"For me, a brasserie is somewhere you can go have a casual, yet elegant experience, you can experience a wide range of food," said chef Aksel Theilkuhl.
He's not kidding about that "wide range" claim. There's a raw bar, featuring sushi and ceviche - this version contains citrus juice cured red snapper and bits of cilantro and celery leaf for garnish. There are also entree-sized salads, like this butter-and-cream-poached rock shrimp, embedded with bits of avocado and vibrant pieces of pink grapefruit and marinated mushrooms; a truffle-lemon vinaigrette dresses it without being overbearing.
"Really it comes down to the food and the wide spectrum of what is available, especially in a brasserie of our nature.. an American brasserie were we pretty much tackle a little bit of everything," Theilkuhl said.
Meatballs are as simple as any Italian grandma's: made from veal and pork, they sit above a shallow pool of herb-flecked polenta, then get a salty shower of grated pecorno cheese. From the sandwich section of the menu, a fried piece of Chatham cod that's as good as anywhere on the East Coast: a crispy beer batter coating, topped with pickled red onions, avocado and watercress.. along with a homemade tartar sauce colored by red peppers - the same creamy spread is used as a dip for the hot, thin and crispy fries.
"I think the menu is very well versed for sharing. I think it's ideal, honestly [you know], with the amount of stuff we have and all the pizzas and the sushi. I think that sharing is something that I will recommend to many people that who come in, who have a few people in their party for sure," said Theilkuhl.
Dessert is a no-brainer; get the steamed banana pudding and call it a day: the caramelized bananas, candied kumquats and rum sauce, paired with the warm, soft, vertical pudding, form a combination that is irresistible.
"Even if you're not a huge banana fan, I will challenge you to try this desert and you might be very impressed by it," he said.
Something for everyone is a pretty good mantra, and I would take the chef's advice when it comes to dessert. Even if you're not a banana person, try the steamed pudding. You're gonna like it.
The restaurant is only open for dinner, for now -- but does serve brunch on the weekends.
BLT American Brasserie
500 W. Superior St.