We don't go to Gig Harbor much; we don't have friends there, we don't own a boat and I'd rather not pay the $4 toll. However, now I have a reason to head to the gorgeous waterfront town ... a memorable meal at Brix 25º.
The restaurant, located just up the street from the waterline, is welcoming from the minute you walk in. With exposed brick, a full front wall of windows, art deco light fixtures and purposefully placed eye-catching photographs the entire room feels abuzz with energy - and not just because there are few open tables on a Saturday night.
Once we made it to our table, we were presented with complimentary glasses of champagne to sip while we perused the menus. Of course, the offerings at Brix 25º can stand on their own without an alcohol incentive, but who turns down an unexpected bit of bubbly? The answer is no one since every table was gleefully indulging.
Since the restaurant is named for an esoteric wine term (the Brix scale is a unit for measuring the sugar concentration of fruit and 25 degrees is where most wine growers pick their grapes), I wanted to test those waters, but was drawn first to the featured specialty cocktails. While I chose the Smokin' Rita ($9), a spicy margarita interpretation made with anejo tequila, fresh muddled limes and Serrano pepper, my husband went with the Gin & Juice ($9), which featured a gin distilled right in Woodinville.
Food-wise, I started with the wilted arugula salad ($8) and couldn't have been happier. The naturally-peppery greens were lightly covered in a mustard vinaigrette and balanced with warm golden raisins, thick cuts of bacon and toasted pumpkin seeds. The grilled tiger prawns ($9) didn't offer the same spectrum of flavor, but the prawns were cooked perfectly (firm, not mealy) and the risotto cake and jalapeno jam did manage to add kick to each bite.
When I began to peruse the pages and pages of wine, our knowledgeable waitress was more than happy to offer her suggestions based on my entrée choice. She also brought me two different by-the-glass selections so I could taste them right at the table before committing one. I chose an earthy blend called the COR Cellars' Momentum ($10), which is produced in Horse Heaven Hills; all of the wine selections at Brix 25º are local, with only a few Oregon Pinots tossed in for good measure, and the staff is impressively well versed on the selections.
As it turns out, the dry red paired seamlessly with the hand-cut filet mignon ($35) I proceeded to devour. Cooked to an expert medium-rare tenderness, the meat and the accompanying fingerling potatoes, carrots and (amazing) beecher's cheese sauce left me satiated. Next time, however, I am all in for the Osso Bucco lamb shank ($25), which I longingly gazed at from across the table.
We pushed onto dessert since the list was too tempting to skip. Despite offerings of delicate profiteroles ($9) and a house made gelato sampler ($7), we went with the seasonally appropriate fresh apple and rhubarb cobbler ($8), which proved to be just sweet enough and not overpowering after our big meal.
Reservations in the dining room are usually necessary on the weekends, regardless of party size. Though, with happy hour every night from 4:30 to 7 p.m. (all night on Saturday), you can certainly stop in for just a quick drink. Though be forewarned, there some treats only served in the bar, plus the full menu is served in there ... so you may be tempted to stay for a bite.
[Brix 25°, 7707 Pioneer Way, Gig Harbor, 253.858.6626; open Mon. - Thurs. 4:30 - 9:30 p.m. (last guest seated at 9 p.m.), Fri. - Sat. 4:30 - 9:30 p.m., Sun. 4:30 - 9:30 p.m. (last guest seated at 8:30 p.m.)]