I made it over the hill and down the Valley for a slightly newer restaurant in St. Helena, Brassica. The reason this review is a bit dated? It got buried in the bottom of my streaming Word file. It deserved attention because the food was damn good that night. And as for the bullet style for the review, frankly, sometimes I like to tell stories and bring a narrative and sometimes I don't.
Crispy Fried Olives a simple starter as I drank a Verdelho from Lodi out of the keg. Yep, keg wine. It’s fresh and it’s less expensive than a bottle.
Seared haloumi cheese with dried oregano, chili, and garlic. Keep it simple, stupid. This qualifies as one of the easiest dishes to make of the evening. A cast iron pan is presented with the dry-herbed coated and seared cheese.
Eggplant Fries with za’atar and spiced yogurt. These could have been a horrible, soggy mess. In fact, I was betting they were going to be a horrible, soggy mess. Not even close. I have never had eggplant fries. The closest thing would have been something my family makes, little fried disks of eggplant seasoned with grated parmigiano. These fries were outstanding. I’m so sick of sweet potato fries and garlic fries. I think eggplant fries could be a real trend, I just have to believe not many restaurants could execute as well as Brassica.
Look, another fried dish...Fried zucchini blossoms with ricotta, mozzarella, and Serrano. The “Fry Guy” or politically correct “Fry Person” was on "its" game again. Wonderful.
Lemon Tabouli with little gem lettuce and sungold tomatoes, served in the lettuce cups, this fresh and bright tabouli was a level beyond what I’m used to from the common Middle Eastern markets available throughout the Bay Area.
Tunisian Style Halibut with olives, preserved lemon and capers. Another wonderful interpretation of North African cuisine. The depth of flavor, the layers of flavor, I experienced it in Essaouria on the coast of Morocco and this dish in St. Helena was spot on. (I know, I'm mixing Tunisia and Morocco, lay off)
Moroccan Lamb shanks with raisins and cous cous was fit for Fred Flintstone (meaning it was big). Tender, a minimum of connective tissue and fat, flavored to the bone. A great representation of what long, slow braising does to cheaper, tougher cuts of beef, lamb, and pork.
Whoever is the “Fry Guy” should get a raise. Not a single miss on any fried dish. Good dishes, good selection of keg wines, and a pricey selection of wines by the glass but from the bottle.
The only thing that bugged me was the constant need to upsell me a wine by the glass that was twice as expensive as wine from a keg.