What: Brasserie Brixton
Where: 3701 Williams Street
When: Open 5 to 10 p.m. Wednesday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 5 to 10 p.m. Saturday and Sunday
For more info: Visit brasseriebrixton.com
opening in July 2020 amid COVID-related restrictions.
In fact, after operating for only six months, the French restaurant fully transformed itself into (Le) Brix, a pizzeria specializing in square, wood-fired pies. The move was made after indoor dining was shut down in November 2020 for a second time; pizza proved to be a pandemic favorite for people craving comfort in the coldest months of the year. But this past March, Brasserie Brixton returned to its intended form, as a neighborhood eatery serving French food, but with a focus on remaining affordable and creative.
Brasserie Brixton is the type of restaurant that people often complain Denver doesn't have enough of. And it's true. Neighborhood spots making high-quality, interesting food at accessible prices that make it possible to be a regular are tough to come by.
While opening a French eatery in a historically Hispanic and Black neighborhood is a move that could spark talk of gentrification, it's also refreshing to see an independent restaurant that's pushing Denver's culinary scene forward instead of, say, another In-N-Out or Shake Shack. And on the heels of news that celebrity chef Ludo Lefebvre will open a traditional French brasserie in a LoDo hotel later this year, it seemed time to check in with this locally owned spot rooted in French traditions that's not afraid to put its own twist on the classics.
The options are organized with smaller, shareable plates on top and larger, entree-sized dishes on the bottom. Though you certainly could drop a couple hundred on a meal for two plus a bottle of wine, it's also possible to have a great meal closer to the $30-per-person range — especially if you stick with pours of the tap wine for $7 a glass.
Having a hard time deciding? Start with some bread ($7) or, more specifically, a baguette with an orb of super-creamy butter. It's not complex, but it pairs perfectly with a glass of orange wine or a cocktail like the Paris Sour with rye, cognac, hibiscus, red wine and lemon.
After that, a mix-and-match order of small plates is a great way to get a sense of Brasserie Brixton's ability to highlight ingredients in simple ways while still hitting you with unexpected flavors.
The tender and charred baby summer squash ($15) is served with a smattering of crisp green beans and crunchy marcona almonds on a bed of ultra-creamy ricotta. The kicker, though, is a pool of red-hued vinaigrette made with nduja, a spicy and spreadable salami.
That dish, paired with the tartare ($18), makes for a filling and fun meal. And if you find tartare a bit off- putting, this version will make you reconsider. Here, the finely chopped beef (yes, it's raw, but stick with me) is paired with thinly sliced radish, pieces of tender turnip and slightly chewy pieces of fried dough, or Chinese doughnut. The whole thing is drizzled with spicy chile, resulting in an exciting mix of flavors and textures that have me still craving this tartare.
If you're a dessert person, finish with ricotta doughnuts served with miso caramel ($12).
Next time, I want to splurge on the duck ($31) and whatever new veggies are making an appearance. And with any luck, next time isn't too far away.