Restaurant Review: Brassica
Normally, you know exactly what to expect in a Chipotle styled joint. In the build-your-own world, there will be options such as lettuce, tomatoes and onions for starters. There will also be grilled chicken and steak… and bean sprouts if it the place is Asian-influenced. It’s all par for the creative course, right?
Brassica’s line-up comes as a bit of a surprise. The options are colorful and unconventional. While the unique selection doesn’t seem to slow up the line, you’ll find yourself wanting to say “YES. SOME OF THAT, ALL OF THAT” every inch of the way.
As you might expect, that constant yes-ing leads to some choices that are better than others. The chicken, for example, is outstanding. It’s served in sizable chunks that are soft and flavorful; perhaps it’s dark meat, it’s hard to tell in the soaking sauce. Regardless, the poultry is the best choice. The brisket is good and very wet, which is appealing. It also has lots of jiggles of fat, which isn’t a match for every palate. And the bacon is lamb bacon. The crew is generous with the bacon, but it is (again) lamb bacon, which means it has a different flavor than conventional bacon. It has the wet-hay barnyard accent that makes people with sensitive palates or farm backgrounds question the virtues of goat cheese. And no, that’s not imagination speaking.
Those particular meats can be presented in a variety of ways, it’s like putting together an artful puzzle. As a foundation, you can use hummus, a salad (a finely chopped mix of crunchy and curly leaves) that tops a starchy mix of grains, or a pita sandwich. Of the three, the pita was the favorite. The pita bread is breathtakingly fresh and tender, and the most remarkable of the options.
Of course, Brassica has more than meats and starches. The thing that makes this place worth repeat visits is the vegetable selection. It’s not just chopped carrots, it’s coarsely hacked, stubby carrots dressed in a sweet-and-savory dressing. It’s not just baked eggplant, the little chunks are saturated with Mediterranean flavors. And the cauliflower? That’s the best part: it has a roasted floppiness with briny accents.
There are also cucumbers; hearty chunks that get something kin to a bread and butter treatment. And loops of marinated red cabbage. Even people who don’t like salad will eat all their vegetables here. Let your dining mates have the brisket and bacon; hoard the vegetables for yourself.
You might choose a dip too, to pair with some of the excellent pita. Opt for the baba ganoush over the hummus. The latter, though undeniably smooth, comes across as a background material. Meanwhile, the eggplant dip has a more complex flavor, courtesy its vegetable origin.
Prices for entrees are based on your meat choice. Chicken is $8.50, Brisket is $9.50, Bacon is $10.50, and something built with just the divine vegetable choices is $7.50. You can find Brassica at 680 N. High Street in the Short North. It’s open daily for lunch and dinner.
For more information, visit www.brassicashortnorth.com.
All photos by Lillian Dent. Photos are taken at a different time than review, so discrepancies between photos and review may occur.