Brewed opened last month on the Near Southside on a stretch of West Magnolia Avenue between Hot Damn, Tamales! and Yucatan Taco Stand, and from the start, the place seemed to struggle with being all things to all people: coffeehouse to professionals and students, brewpub to sophisticated tipplers, and café to foodies. The internet buzzed with the complaints of customers whose servers were simply overwhelmed by Brewed’s multiple menus. But on the day after Thanksgiving, Brewed was crowded with an interesting mix of folks –– twentysomething hipsters, middle-aged worker bees, elderly couples –– who all seemed to get along just fine in the eclectic atmosphere of vintage, non-matching furniture, mirrors, and maps on the walls. Although large selections of beer and coffee are Brewed’s main selling points, the upscale pub food was not half bad, and the service was just fine.
The meal started with a ho-hum appetizer: Texas pork-belly sliders — thick, tender cuts of pig flesh served on small, grilled, chewy buns. Although the meat was top-notch, the sweet Korean barbecue sauce had almost no flavor and the advertised “pickled cabbage slaw,” which was presumably a version of the fermented cabbage dish kim chi, had none of the garlic-ginger-hot pepper taste that makes that Korean side dish, at its best, so flavorful.
The bacon mac ’n’ three cheese was much better, a hot, gooey mound of slippery seashell pasta, salty bacon chunks that were the right combo of fatty and crunchy, and a sharp and smoky blend of gouda, Texas cheddar, and parmesan. The idea of serving meaty, heavy mac ’n’ cheese as an appetizer rather than an entrée still seems odd to me, but with more than one diner sharing it, the savory cheeses in this version should indeed whet your hunger for your entrée.
The only salad available that evening was something called the “super food salad,” and it was spectacular. Super foods are all those meats, veggies, fruits, and grains that are alleged to have extra nutritional value or special medicinal powers. The salad here was a crunchy, leafy mess of fresh baby spinach leaves, tender boiled edamame pods, aromatic chopped green onions, pumpkin and flax seeds, and sweet, chewy, raisin-like goji berries served with a soft-boiled egg sliced in half. The apple walnut vinaigrette served on the side was fruity, nutty, not too sweet, and completely unnecessary –– the warm soft yellow yolk from the egg made for a nice natural condiment to the salad.
Brewed’s Best BLTB sandwich was also exceptionally nice. Two toasted slices of whole-grain bread contained thick-cut, crunchy, non-greasy bacon slices; fresh red tomato slices; satiny pale green butter lettuce leaves; and a super-creamy, mozzarella-like Italian cheese known as burrata that was made in-house. The sammy came with your choice of sweet potato fries or duck-fat fries (cut spuds deep-fried in the titular bird grease). The duck-fat fries were marvelous, with a light poultry aftertaste but none of the gaminess of that notoriously fatty fowl.
The final entrée, bangers and mash, was a slightly fancy treatment of the beloved English pub-style sausage and mashed potatoes. The two large, house-made pork sausage links were mild and almost pâté-like in their texture but had a rich meatiness that blended well with the layer of smooth, creamy buttermilk mashed potatoes beneath. The dish’s casual but upscale vibe nicely summed up the whole evening at Brewed, which tries to do a lot of different things and, happily, succeeds at most of them.
801 W Magnolia Av, FW. 817-945-1545. 10am-2pm Sun, closed Mon, 8am-11pm Tue-Wed, 8am-midnight Thu-Sat. All major credit cards accepted.
Texas pork-belly sliders ……… $10
Bacon mac ’n’ three cheese …. $ 7
Super food salad ………………… $10
Best BLTB …………………………… $10
Bangers and mash ……………… $10