Is there another place in town like Brewed? Sure, you could probably get some food, a pint of beer, a glass of wine, and a specialty coffee drink at any old café. But the hip Near Southside eatery/drinkery seems to take all of those things a little more seriously than your average vittles peddler.
My personal relationship with the place has been a little up and down. I’ve loved going there for drinks, whether it’s a high-octane caffeine dose from the espresso bar or one of the many local craft beers the bartenders sling. The décor is eclectic, with neat-o bric-a-brac hitting your eyes like a glitter bomb. The crowd is a little hipster –– well-hatted, mustachioed men with young woman who wear updated versions of what used to pass for mom jeans –– but young and nice.
I’ve always found the food and service to be lacking. On one of my first visits to the place, I ordered the duck fat fries, and my server refused to bring me ketchup until he saw me try one. It took all of my restraint not to deliver a fry where the sun don’t shine. On another visit, our server disappeared for 10-15 minutes at a time. We found her outside smoking when it was time to get the check. The food was never bad, but the kitchen’s execution just wasn’t consistent. I stopped ordering the Texas redfish because it was almost always overcooked.
But Brewed seems to have ironed out its shoddy service and hit-or-miss grub. New-ish chef, Nathan King, who came on staff in January, seems to have turned around that kitchen. The new menus for brunch, lunch, and dinner all slant somewhere between upscale comfort and American Nouveau cuisines.
The lunch menu has a ton of appetizing, creative new dishes. A Play on Wings ($8.50) is a serving of fried cauliflower bites with a tangy buffalo sauce and blue cheese dressing disguised as the bar-food classic. The fried Brussels sprouts ($8) were soaked in a sambal soy sauce that added a molasses-like sludge to the dish but didn’t add much in the way of flavor. There’s also a deviled egg flavor of the day ($6), which sounds like something I might have invented in a fever dream.
On recent a weekday lunch, I opted for the turkey avocado sandwich ($10.25), a generously portioned hunk of moist, flavorful bird breast, arugula, juicy tomatoes, avocado, and a cranberry pumpkin seed spread stuffed between fresh nine-grain bread. I subbed in the rich, crispy duck fat fries for the fruit pieces that usually accompany the dish. Ketchup was served on the side without my asking.
The Fairmount Bird & Veggies ($15) was a revelation. The brick-style oven-baked chicken breast was moist with crispy skin and drenched in a sage butter sauce that pooled on the bottom of the plate, blending well with the vibrantly colored sunburst squash, mushrooms, onions, and Brussels sprouts. It’s the kind of dish that could keep me awake at night craving it.
It’s nice to see that Brewed has corrected its course. For foodies, it could easily fill the void left by shuttered restaurants like Sera, 24 Plates, and AF&B. For the young hipsters, it could serve as nice introduction to fine dining. There’s nothing else like it.
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