First Taste

Don't doubt the Cock, BRC Gastropub poised to be a hit

Don't doubt the Cock, BRC Gastropub poised to be a hit

It's fitting that BRC Gastropub, the new spot from Glass Wall's Lance Fegen and Shepherd Ross as well as The Social's Carl Eaves and Lee Ellis, sits almost directly across from Branch Water Tavern.

The two spots symbolize in many ways the new moment in Houston dining — casually chic surroundings in a restored building, re-imagined comfort classics and a focus on drinking that blurs the line between restaurant and bar.

With plenty of restored wood accents and a stunning red flocked wall paper, the effect is fancy but comfortable. With rooster pictures dotting the wall and a statue out front, what BRC stands for is officially the worst-kept secret in town. But it's a fun touch, carried through in some surprising ways — even the chic industrial lighting fixtures over the central banquet table are by a company called Roost.

Where Branch Water is all about bourbon, BRC focuses on American craft beer — with 28 taps featuring nary an Anheuser-Busch offering in favor of Brooklyn Lager, Blue Moon, Stona IPA, Saint Arnold's Elissa and others.

Much of the menu seems like a cross between a bar menu and fair food — re-imagined and served up by executive chef Jeff Axline. The blue crab beignets appetizer was an pleasant mix of sweet and tart, but the bacon and bleu cheese mac-and-cheese of the day (in the menu as a side order but perfectly portioned as an appetizer) blew us away.

The bread crumb topping gave the impression the contents would be thick and solidified, but the cream was a great liquid consistency that complemented the crunchy topping and suited the strength of the bleu cheese  — and didn't overfill before the entrees came.

Barely resisting the BRC Pub Burger (made of Whiteface Hereford beef ground in-house daily) and the state fair griddled cheese sandwich of pulled short rib, Munster, cheddar and tomato on sourdough (despite appearances, even I can eat only so much cheese) — not to mention the twice-cooked fries — I opted for the roasted brisket open face sandwich.

An ugly mess of brisket, sauteed mushrooms, ham chunks, caramelized onions, gravy and cheddar on grilled sourdough, it's one of the dishes that proves the comfort food rule that food doesn't have to be pretty to be delicious — in fact, sometimes the inverse is true.

My friend tried the boneless short rib, which was tender and serviceable but a bit bland, served with sour cream mashed potatoes that also failed to incite enthusiasm, but the frozen Snickers beignets polishing off the meal were perfectly decadent, and fluffy enough to avoid feeling that heaviness the fair version always causes.

The menu has plenty of other appealing dishes — mussels and fries, hot dogs, sliders, and fried chicken for four on Sundays, plus an egg-focused brunch menu — and with its reasonable prices, particularly for the draft beers, I can't imagine BRC being anything other than a huge hit.

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BRC isn't above having a little fun with its name. Courtesy of BRC Gastropub
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BRC's neon sign doesn't give away the name. Courtesy of BRC American Gastropub
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Celebrating National Pretzel Day at BRC American Gastropub with plenty of beers to choose from. BRC American Gastropub/Facebook