Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Brouwer's Cafe in Fremont

I went by Brouwer's Cafe in Fremont (Phinney Ridge at 35th) yesterday. It's new enough that there's no signage outside. It was lunchtime, so I didn't have any beer, which is too bad, because that is really what the place is about. The building is an odd mishmash of architectural style. The exterior is very industrial, with dark green steel siding and industrial windows. The inside has some faux-granite shotcrete on the lower walls, dark wood tables and booths, and some high-industrialesque steel going around the back of the bar and the refrigerators. The upper walls are a butter color, and there are chandeliers on the ceilings and what look like parodies of flemish paintings on the high walls. There is a mezzanine which allows smoking. [That's something I miss about California--mandatory non-smoking everywhere. Somehow, the bar/resto scene didn't collapse in CA, despite stern warnings from RJR and Philip Morris.]

The lunch menu is a bit sparse: steak frites, mussels with fries, a few sandwiches, and some small plates (fries, croquettes, etc). There's no indication from the front that the menu has two sides, so I didn't even notice the sandwiches and such until after I'd ordered. They have a very limited selection of non-alcoholic drinks. Service was pleasant enough.

I had a steak with fries. The steak was a nice piece of onglet, cooked pretty much as I requested (rare). It came with a Belgian ale reduction sauce that was truly awful--very bitter and nasty tasting. The fries were pretty good, nice and hot, with a lot of salt (maybe a tad too much--could have used more on the steak, less on the fries). It was served with a side of extremely mediocre "aioli" that couldn't have been made with olive oil.

For dessert I had the apple-caramel bread pudding. The splooge of nitrous-propelled translucent cream-like stuff is a turn-off. Whip some cream, it's not that hard! The bread pudding itself was a bit uninspired, with the goo not fully soaking the bread everywhere. The caramel sauce was nice, but if you're going to heat the caramel sauce, don't serve the bread pudding cold.

Summary: don't go for the food at this point. Maybe they'll figure it out in a couple of months.

UPDATE: I went back a second time, much better.