Restaurant Review: Brider
The newest incarnation from chef Steven Redzikowski (Oak at Fourteenth, Acorn), Brider feels like the chic yet comfortable living room of Denver.
Though sleekly appointed with marble slab backsplashes, retro-industrial lighting and a lounge area stocked with bertoia diamond chairs, the restaurant (pronounced bree-DAY) manages to retain the warmth of home and the welcoming aura of a beloved local hangout with polished wood, chalkboard walls and smiling service. Perky lime accents, relaxed seating areas and a comfortable mix of stand-alone and community seating bring together area residents, power lunchers and hungry hipsters alike for family meal.
With breakfast, lunch and dinner service, as well as a high-end selection of take-out goodies, this casual offering from Redzikowski embraces and exemplifies the current Denver dining scene – casual-leaning and unpretentious, exacting quality and ingredient standards and food prepared with nurturing care and sentimentality.
THIS CASUAL OFFERING FROM REDZIKOWSKI EMBRACES AND EXEMPLIFIES THE CURRENT DENVER DINING SCENE – CASUAL-LEANING AND UNPRETENTIOUS, EXACTING QUALITY AND INGREDIENT STANDARDS AND FOOD PREPARED WITH NURTURING CARE AND SENTIMENTALITY.
Dishes are focused to celebrate meats that have spent time luxuriating in the rotisserie or roasting in the central hearth, but there are a bevy of enticing salads, bowls and pastry case items to round out a meal. An appealingly adult kids’ menu includes meatballs and polenta, grilled cheese on brioche and chicken with veggies and roasted potatoes – thoughtful selections that outthink chicken nuggets, while unabashedly acknowledging and welcoming people with families who still enjoy eating out like grown-ups.
Hinting further at a level of care and loving attention to detail that defines many of the menu offerings, Brider’s sodas are stellar upgrades on classic flavors. The non-alcoholic offerings go beyond typical fountain fare to introduce housemade ginger beer, limonata, orange clove and root beer. All have been lightly sweetened and reinvented with real ingredients, a subtle touch that celebrates an often overlooked menu element.
Ginger beer – ginger ale’s balanced, drier, more grown-up cousin – was zingy and bright, the tincture subtly cloudy with the essence of true, spicy ginger. Relying on the simple, clean combo of lemon and lime, limonata had an addictive lip-smacking, mouth-watering tang, while still managing to remain light and refreshing as a summer day. Both were absent the cloying sweetness that plagues so many sodas – instead, just clean flavors opened up by a touch of sugar.
After a few moments sipping merrily on my soda, the rotisserie roasted porchetta sandwich arrived with a side of gorgeously burnished chips, paper-thin and heavily (though not unpleasantly) seasoned. Thick slabs of air-pocketed artisan bread housed a colorful melange of arugula, housemade kimchi, fresh cabbage and tender ribbons of crisp, porky porchetta goodness, with melted cheddar cheese and a lush, verdant cilantro aioli binding the unusual fusion of ingredients. Toothsome bread from the artful bakers at Grateful Bread Company was made rich with a generous drizzle of olive oil and seared to toasty perfection, and the warm fire and funk of the kimchi was surprisingly complimentary to the herb-scented pork.
If a sandwich doesn’t tickle your fancy, try the hearth-fired oak meatballs nestled in a pillowy bed of fluffy polenta. The lightly herbed meatballs, a 60/40 blend of beef and Duroc pork, are made flavorful and delightfully tender by the addition of ricotta, pecorino romano and parmesan. Earthy dollops of broccoli raab pesto and a grassy tangle of watercress spouts, basil chiffonade and ribboned scallions add verve to the deeply comforting, slow-roasted flavors of the tomato sauce and polenta.
Global influences mark the menu, with chicken banh mi, harissa lamb, and falafal sandwiches and a Madras curry bowl all making an appearance. Dinner plates feature the same rotisserie meats (leg of lamb, chicken and porchetta) with the option of classic, Asian, Mediterranean or curry accompaniments. For lighter fare, the salads arrive piled high and hearty – and yes, the classic and celebrated Redzikowski kale and shaved apple salad is in attendance. Filling roughage brightened with a lemony vinaigrette and bits of apple, the salad is enlivened by a sprinkling of tongue-prickling togarashi (read more about the Japanese spice blend here).
Despite a bevy of pastry beauties peeking out behind the display glass as you walk through the ordering line, I’ve yet to settle on a dessert that blew me away. I had high hopes for a thick, doughy chocolate chunk cookie, pale and studded with white and semisweet chocolate, but was underwhelmed – the cookie could’ve spent a few more minutes in the oven to caramelize further, and the whole affair would’ve sung with the addition of a flourish of fleur de sel.
Similarly, a handful of old-fashioned donut holes had an attractive mahogany crust draped with a smooth layer of confectioner’s sugar glaze. Perhaps it was my fault for not having a coffee to dunk these lovelies in, but they erred on the dry side, rather than having the dense, cakey interior I was hoping for (but, really, what donut can’t be saved by a swim in some Boxcar coffee?!) Next time I’ll save room for the decadent, glossy ganache-drenched torte (gluten-free, as were a handful of other options).
Though I’m rarely downtown in the early hours, the breakfast menu seems an excellent way to kick off the day if you’re in the neighborhood – easy grab-n-go egg breakfast sandwiches and an alluring cheese and sausage stuffed pretzel stand at the ready, while farro oatmeal with cinnamon and date butter beckons you to linger just a bit longer before facing your day.
The open-door policy at Brider, means you are welcome to take the day at your pace – whether a quick, satisfying meal for the road, a warm, lingering lunch with friends and the littles or a few hours to unwind with a beer, wine or cocktail on tap in the communal space, you can relax in the glow of the hearth and be sure someone put effort and heart into your meal.