By Alison Geisler
10:10 AM EDT, April 24, 2013
266 College St., New Haven, (203) 891-7155, briqrestaurant.com
If you're out and about downtown, possibly on a fancy date, celebrating a milestone or catching a meal before a show at the Shubert, you should make Briq a part of your itinerary for the night. Briq is a new restaurant that sits in the spot formerly occupied by Gilt Moroccan Steakhouse and Lounge, and before that, Bespoke. The main floor has tables, a long bar and a sidewalk patio, and during warm weather you can chill at their rooftop bar. But the interior design, although cozy and romantic, is not the focus here. Holy mother of god, you need to try their food. And their cocktails.
Briq serves tapas and "table-style" entrees, and sharing is highly encouraged. My companion and I ordered three appetizers to start. The Drunken Cheesy Bread ($7.50) and Lobster Mash Potatoes ($12) were brought out first. The bread was like biting into the offspring of French onion soup and cheese fondue. Gooey, onion-y, with just a hint of wine (not that weird chemical fondue alcohol taste). The potatoes were creamy, delicious, and over way too soon. Next came the Korean Fried Chicken ($7). Four whole chicken wings slathered in a sweet, spicy, sticky sauce, sprinkled with sesame seeds. The chicken was tender. And this sauce is so good we started wiping it off the plate with our fingers.
As we devoured the appetizers, we sipped on a couple of Briq's cocktail options. I ordered an Au Cherie, like a grown-up Shirley Temple that didn't overshadow the food's powerful flavors. My date got a Rum Swizzle. He ordered an IPA next, but the bar didn't currently have any hoppy beers for him. So the bartender made up a drink for him using hop vodka and lime juice. My date is not a mixed-drink kind of guy, unless you're talking whiskey mixed with nothing. He was impressed and happy with the bit of bartender wizardry.
By now, our table was clear in anticipation of the Towering Taco Tower for Two ($12.50 per person). We were presented with a stack of dim sum boxes that were disassembled one by one by our waiter. Each box contained a different element of taco possibilities, and we had eight corn tortillas upon which to mix and match. The tower comes with Korean bbq beef, Thai shrimp and chipotle chicken, salsa, portabello mushrooms, salsa, avocado, chopped onion and cilantro. It helped my date and me reach post-dinner nirvana.
Unfortunately we were too stuffed to sample dessert. My only word of caution is this: If you're dressed all nice, and you want the Korean Fried Chicken, bring some wet-naps. The sauce is really too good not to suck off your fingers, but an accidental saucing of one's dress clothes would be unfortunate.
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