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Posted May 2006

A Diner’s Journal

Brix Restaurant and Wine Shop

By Stacey Bressler

Brix is a restaurant that really deserves more attention.  With Napa Valley being such a wine and food-oriented destination, those of us who live here sometimes focus on what’s new or unusual and overlook the consistently good, solid, wine-friendly restaurants such as Brix.

Brix has a lot to recommend it.  It’s a pretty restaurant with ample parking.  It is one of very few places that offers seasonal outdoor dining on a lovely patio.  On cooler evenings, the bar has a great area with comfy chairs and an inviting fireplace.  Tables and booths are spaced well enough to allow private conversation.

But it’s the food that I want to talk about.  Appetizers are varied and fairly priced.  The crispy gingered shrimp dumplings in a sweet soy glaze accompanied by chili oil ($10) made a wonderful starter.  The skin on the dumplings was nicely thin and truly crispy.  Too often this dish is ruined by soggy, thick dough, but Brix does a great job.  The butter lettuce salad with Vella Jack cheese, smoked pecans and Champagne vinaigrette ($9) was over-dressed for my taste, but the ingredients were all fresh and tasty.  Next time, I’ll request my dressing on the side.  Yes, it was good enough to have again, in spite of too much dressing.  The third appetizer at our table was the seared Sonoma foie gras with roasted apple crepe and a black pepper sauvignon blanc reduction ($16).  A sigh of contentment and a very clean plate seemed to indicate that this dish was much enjoyed. 

Entreés are generous and pleasing to the palate.  The grilled Colorado lamb rack ($36) was done perfectly.  I couldn’t resist the Prosciutto and sage stuffed chicken breast with mascarpone white polenta, wild mushroom and truffle jus ($25).  It was delicious.  The fettuccini with sautéed prawns ($23) was good, and had plenty of shrimp, but could have used a bit more garlic or herbs for my taste.  Brix is a seasonal restaurant, so the menu changes every few months and there are often specials.  When we last dined there, our waiter recommended the halibut.  It was well-presented and tasty, but I felt the fish was just a bit overcooked.  So if you like your fish on the less-done side, as I do, be sure to let your server know.

Brix Restaurant and Wine Shop:

7377 St. Helena Hwy.
Yountville, CA 94558

The service at Brix was excellent.  Noting that we had brought two bottles of pinot noir, our server promptly brought us each two Burgundy glasses so that we could do a side by side comparison.  Brix has a superb wine list featuring many hard-to-find Napa gems.

While we usually pass on desserts, the white chocolate cheesecake ($9) proved irresistible to my husband.  The cheesecake itself was wonderful, but the accompanying chocolate gelato added nothing to the dish.

Brix also serves a lavish Sunday brunch ($23.95/adults, $13.95/children).  It’s the kind of walk-around, multi-station food extravaganza that takes me back to my youth on the East coast.  There’s a salad area, eggs made to order and accompanied by the requisite meats, eggs Benedict, a carving station, cheese and smoked meats, beautiful Danish and beignets, pizzas from the wood-burning oven and more pastries and desserts than I could count.  Because I try to avoid most carbohydrates, much of this splendid display was lost on me.  And with so many different dishes to manage, not every one was a winner.  However, the brunch proved to be a real crowd-pleaser during a recent family gathering.  We hosted a group of eight people whose food preferences were not known to us (turns out that two were vegetarians).   With a wide diversity of tastes and culinary sophistication, this was the perfect group for the Brix Sunday brunch.

There’s one other unique thing about Brix – the restaurant has a really nice gift and wine shop.  Since eating and shopping are two of my favorite things, it stands to reason that I would like this place.

Having just had a very pleasant dinner at Brix, I don’t understand why I don’t go there more often.  This is about to change.
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