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Author: Julie Fadda
October, 2011 Issue

7377 St. Helena Highway
(707) 944-2749
Wine Country cuisine
Lunch and dinner Mon.-Sat.
Brunch and dinner Sunday
Entrées: $19-$33
Full bar, excellent wine list

Set on a 16-acre property, Brix is a restaurant, wine shop and meeting place with a spectacular view of its vegetable and flower gardens, vineyards and fruit trees. There’s a large bar and dining room, an extensive patio and private dining areas for groups large and small. Owned by the Kelleher Family, it also produces its own Cabernet Sauvignon from 10 acres of on-property vineyard and uses vegetables and fruits from its garden. Diners can stroll the property and check out the 14 raised beds to see what’s growing. This is an up-close, farm-to-table experience.

Executive Chef Chris Jones (formerly of the girl & the fig and Estate) regularly changes the seasonal menu to reflect what’s fresh and ripe, while wine director Jeff Creamer helps diners choose from the extensive wine list to accompany their meal.

We started with some specialty cocktails (the “ginger twist” and “Oakville grade” were especially light and refreshing on a hot summer night), then moved to a glass of Graf Sauvignon Blanc (citrus elements, rounded mouthfeel) to accompany our appetizers of hot, delicious sweet corn soup with basil pesto and cherry tomatoes as well as the yellowtail amberjack crudo, which was sushi-grade, sliced thin and topped with Meyer lemon olive oil with frisée, cress and thin-sliced radishes. A “little gem” salad had chopped baby romaine, plenty of shaved grana padano cheese, whole anchovies, croutons and caper vinaigrette—think Caesar salad “light” but with just as much flavor and texture.

Entrées were first a roasted, melt-in-your-mouth striped bass seasoned with cracked pepper and fennel, served atop creamy mashed Yukon gold potatoes (we substituted them—the dish normally comes with fennel purée), fresh baby yellow squash and zucchini, and a tomato vinaigrette with tomatoes and olives. A side of white and green beans was topped with a delicious sofrito (peppery red sauce).

The beef rib eye was served a perfect medium rare, with a crisp exterior and buttery texture, topped with fresh greens and bone marrow butter (rich, earthy) and served with truffled macaroni and goat cheese timbale (rich flavor but light in texture). We went for a pairing of two different Kelleher Family Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignons (2005 and 2006). It was fun to compare the difference of the same grapes between the two years. The 2005 was bright red with mineral and spice; the 2006 was dark and rich.

Desserts were shortbread topped with fresh figs and strawberries with fig sorbet and an amazing sangria sauce; and a special Gravenstein apple tartin, which was buttery and on top of berry compote with a scoop of berry vanilla ice cream and caramelized rice cereal. Top them off with an espresso martini (think dessert in a glass) and we were happy as could be.


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