A Review of Brasserie by Niche

Not exactly a Mid-Mo restaurant, but just down the road in what is fast becoming a culinary mecca in the midwest, St. Louis. Brasserie by Niche is owned and operated by the owner/executive chef of Niche restaurant, Gerard Craft.  I’ve had the pleasure of dining at Niche twice, and it’s one of those blow your mind type of places.  Whereas Niche is very forward-thinking in their cuisine, Brasserie is very traditional.  A French bistro, set up to do traditional and relatively simple French dishes, but to execute them flawlessly.  They do this very well.

Valet parking is a must, parking is atrocious.  When entering the restaurant I noticed 3 things immediately: packed, loud, quaint.  Red-checkered table clothes covered with torn brown butcher paper. Odd-and-end chairs and tables and fixtures complete the look.  It might have been due to the large party seated near us, but the noise level was about 10 dB  higher than what I would have liked.  It was a very social place, perfect for a gathering of friends or family but not so great for a quiet date.

We were quickly brought miniature baguettes and a small ramekin of unsalted butter.  The bread was terrific, crusty with a soft interior.  I ordered the head cheese, braised grass-fed lamb and chocolate cake with almond ice cream.  The other half ordered the onion soup (oddly, they don’t call it French onion soup in France, just onion soup:) ) and the croque madame.  The head cheese is made in house and served with bread, grainy mustard and cornichons, or small pickles.  It’s good, rustic, and very porky.  The onion soup was also terrific.  It was evident that the onions were allowed to fully caramelize as the soup was so deeply flavored, rich and sweet.

Next came the main courses.  My grass-fed lamb was cooked to a perfect medium rare.  Tender, flavorful and delicious.  Served alongside it was a beautiful potato gratin and sauteed spinach, which was cooked and flavored well.  None of these required additional seasoning, which is a sign that someone is paying attention in the kitchen and I like that.  The croque madame is a grilled ham and cheese sandwich topped with a fried egg and mornay sauce (white cheese sauce).  It’s incredibly rich and flavorful, paired with a frisee salad with a very light vinaigrette.  It’s really wonderful.  Too big to eat the whole thing and I don’t think you’d want to because of the richness, but what a flavor!

Dessert is sometimes a toss-up in these types of places, but I ordered hopeful that it would be thoughtfully done, and my hopes were fulfilled.  It was a liquid chocolate cake and almond ice cream.  When cut open the chocolate oozed out of the cake and had more of a dark-chocolate, bittersweet taste to it.  The almond ice cream was awesome, simply put.  It was definitely made in house, creamy and smooth with the best texture I’ve had in ice cream in a while.  A lemon tart was also ordered, which came with a tender crust and delightfully tart filling.  Also worth checking out.

The prices aren’t bad, though it’s still more of a special occasion type of place than not.  Service was good, wine was reasonable, and the restaurant was clean.  I’m definitely going back.

8/10 – – Simple food executed perfectly in a slightly louder than desirable environment.  I’m still going back though!

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One Response to “A Review of Brasserie by Niche”

  1. Pam Says:

    Craft has my utmost respect and I cannot wait to try Brasserie!

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