BRIX balances culinary excellence
Colorfully concocted cuisine. Sumptuously blended flavors. Artfully presented. Savored within a warm and intimate setting. Enjoyed with great company, followed by impeccable service. This describes the culinary nirvana I experienced at Brix Restaurant and Wine Bar in Flagstaff, Arizona.
I have been to Flagstaff many times, and while there are a lot of great dining options, fine-dining isn’t the first thing that comes to mind. One of my readers saw a mention of my pending trip to Flagstaff and highly recommended that I try Brix Restaurant and Wine Bar. The name alone sounded like a gastronomic experience I needed to check out. My readers have never steered me wrong, so I was happy to follow through on the suggestion.
Brix is located in the downtown area of Flagstaff and is situated in an old carriage house that dates back to the turn of the 20th century. As a matter of fact, the main part of the restaurant also housed the very first automobile to arrive in Flagstaff. The restaurant is made up of a cluster of intimate rooms, each with maybe 4-5 tables. Beautifully exposed brick and stunning artwork adorn the walls.
When my date and I approached the building she saw the restaurant sign and noticed the spelling of Brix and said, “oh, Brix, I thought perhaps the name was Bricks. Do you know what ‘brix’ means? she asked. “Not a clue,” I replied. “Brix is the measurement of sugar content in wine or Champagne.” Ten brix equals 10 percent sugar, I later learned. “A clever restaurant name and great piece of trivia,” I thought. As a foodie, I was however, a bit embarrassed that I was not familiar with the term.
“Good vibe” is a term often used to describe the indescribable. It’s the feeling our senses send to our brain with little detail. Brix feels a bit like that…the vibe is chill, but not stuffy. It’s inviting and romantic. It’s the kind of place where you can have an intimate dinner for two, or belly-up to the copper laminated bar and enjoy a glass of wine with a good friend as the subtle sounds of jazz music wafts through the air, fondling the eardrums to heighten the contentment.
As my date and I were seated, we were quickly greeted by our server, whose name I share (Michael). After getting drinks ordered, Michael soon came back to tell us about the special for the evening and answer any of our questions. At this point the tone in his voice changed from formal, to slightly informal as he proceeded to tell me that we knew each other. Somewhat taken aback, I said, “how’s that?”
I am always embarrassed when someone remembers me and I don’t recall them, but I do meet a lot of people, so it’s often difficult to remember each encounter. In my defense, it had been a very long time since our paths had crossed, but as Micheal described the period of time, some fragments did surface. I have so many “small-world” encounters over the six years of Mike’s Road Trip that it leads me to believe that those in our own individual circles of life, are all connected in some way.
As our dining experience continued, we were pleasantly surprised by an amuse bouche to whet our appetite for the courses to come.
We started off with one of the most popular items on the menu, the caramelized Brussels sprouts, which were drizzled with a lemon and roasted garlic vinaigrette. The dish was topped/garnished with micro greens, slivered apples, small pieces of grilled red onion and apple-wood smoked bacon along with some shaved Parmigiano Reggiano cheese. It was so delicious that we could have ordered a couple more and been supremely content for our meal.
We then had the Creekstone Farms New York Strip with a black garlic butter and pommes aligot, accompanied with grilled asparagus and pickled mustard seed. My date wanted to order this medium rare, but when I said I preferred medium, she acquiesced. However, when Michael told us the chef recommended this dish be served medium rare, it was me who ended up compromising. As it turned out, the ends of the steak were nearly medium, so it was perfect for both of us. If I order steak, I typically go for a filet, however this New York Strip was sensational.
For the other entrée we chose the special-of-the-day, which was a Sea Bass variety with which I was not familiar called Bluenose. I learned later it’s also known as Australian Sea Bass. This dish had braised butter beans, herb salad with parsnip purée, along with a Spanish chorizo vinaigrette and crispy salsify. It was a fantastic combination of flavors and textures.
As you might expect with a name like Brix, they have an extensive wine list that even includes a few local (to the state) wines. If you’re not familiar, Arizona has been making great strides in wine production. Each wine listed on their menu has a nice description of the vineyard and flavor profile.
Brix has received national and worldwide acclaim, and after my own dining experience, I can see why this endearing restaurant in the small mountain town of Flagstaff is attracting such attention.
If you can’t tell from my write up, I loved Brix! They knocked it out of the park in every category; from the locally sourced foods, the creative combination of ingredients, perfectly prepared and presented, charming venue, to the exceptional service.
If you’ve ever been to Brix in Flagstaff, please leave a comment below, I’d love to hear about your experience.