Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Rachael's Restaurant Reviews- Brasa

Andy and I found ourselves with a rare night off last night and decided to have an impromptu date night.  I had been wanting to try Brasa for a while now because I consistently hear amazing things about it.  So off we went to North Minneapolis in search of "comfort food inspired by the creole cooking traditions of the Americas and Caribbean."

Brasa: Premium Rotisserie, 600 E Hennepin Ave. Minneapolis, MN 55414
Rating- 7

 Brasa's menu is organized by proteins, sides, bowls, breads and sandwiches.  Most items are designed for sharing (or not).  You can order small, medium and large sizes depending on whether you're trying to feed the table or just yourself. We decided to order one bowl, one protein and two sides. 

The Order: 
Smoked Beef- "Braised & Seasoned with Sweet-Spicy BBQ Sauce"
Here's the thing, I was underwhelmed by this dish but Andy loved it. So perhaps take my review with a grain of salt?  I also admittedly feel like my being underwhelmed is party my own fault.  Braising means you sear the meat and then slow cook it in a cooking liquid of your choice to break down the connective tissue and make the meat very tender.  So, I was expecting juicy beef that had been braised in BBQ sauce. I wanted the sweet and tangy goodness to be infused in every salty rich bite.  Instead I got what was nicely braised beef (meaning it did reach desired tenderness) with a small ladle of BBQ sauce added on top right before they bring it to your table.  To be fair, the description says "seasoned with" BBQ sauce, not "marinated in" BBQ sauce. My fault.  Even still, braising is a method of cooking that can infuse meat with an incredible amount of flavor, and I felt this dish was lacking the intense flavor I was hoping for.

Pork & Over Easy Egg Bowl- "Yellow Rice, Jalapeno Spinach & Red Sauce" 
If you are just ordering for you, and not planning to share, I recommend ordering one of the bowls.  This is a lot of bang for your buck people.  It has rice, spinach, slow roasted pork, egg, crispy onions and sauce all for about 9 bucks.  The rice was a wonderful golden color, flavorful and fluffy. While the spinach was good, I couldn't detect even a hint of Jalapeno. Since I like spicy food, that was disappointing. The slow roasted pork was tender and savory, good marks there. The over easy egg was perfectly cooked and when you broke the yolk it infused the dish with that extra layer of depth you want from good comfort food. Brava Brassa! The red sauce, on the other hand, like the Jalapeno was hard to detect. 

Crispy Yuca with Citrus & Garlic
I'm not always a fan of Yuca. When it's done well, I LOVE it. When it's not crisped correctly, it's terrible.  Brasa's Yuca was fantastic.  Nicely sized slices of Yuca fried up to perfection.  Good and crispy on the outside and fluffy, not dry, on the inside. The citrus garlic dipping sauce they came with? I would drink that with a straw if they had brought me one.  This was probably the best dish we ordered.

Cornbread & Beans
I love cornbread.  It's essentially an excuse to eat butter and honey in heaps.  Everyone likes their cornbread differently. Some like it dense and substantial. Others like it fluffy and more cake like.  Some prefer it served hot, others feel it's better at room temperature or even slightly chilled. I like mine warm, and somewhere in between the dense and fluffy consistency. For me, the cornbread at Brasa was too dense and too cold.  It also lacked any flavor standing on it's own.  It was significantly improved by the butter and honey (but really what food isn't?). The baked red beans were perfectly cooked, but again lacked the intense flavor I'm looking for in Creole inspired cooking.  They didn't have that deep molasses flavor that's balanced by the starchy beans and tang of BBQ sauce. 

I know it might read as if I didn't enjoy my meal at Brasa.  Don't get me wrong, the food was good, I'd venture to say most people who eat there would say it is really really good.  But as someone who has had exceptional creole inspired comfort food, I just wanted to take the flavor nodule on everything and crank it up, up, up!

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