Most of the menu at BRC Gastropub looks like it was designed to kill you, in the manner of Adolf Frederick—well known as the King of Sweden who ate himself to death. The king perished in 1771 after a brief, 20-year reign ended by a meal of lobster, caviar, kippers, sauerkraut, Champagne, and 14 servings of semlas—sweet rolls filled with almond paste and topped with whipped cream—in hot milk. Not a bad way to die, all said.
519 Shepherd Dr.
I have a feeling that King Adolf Frederick would choose death by gorging all over again if he saw BRC's menu of macaroni and cheese topped with foie gras, its "Fatboy's Hamburger" basted in duck fat, or its raspberry-white chocolate bread pudding topped with caramel and served with thick cream.
These are all items on BRC's fall menu—items which don't appeal in the dog days of summer, but which call out like sirens once the mercury drops below 75 degrees (the Houston definition of "fall").
While I couldn't bring myself to try the foie-topped mac 'n' cheese (nor the foie gras-topped poutine, that Canadian dish of french fries, gravy, and cheese curds which is all too attractive in a cold Canuck winter—but not so much in a Texas autumn), my dining partner and I did give in to the meatball-topped macaroni and cheese dish that came with "Sunday tomato gravy" and I was glad we did.
BRC has won plenty of well-deserved awards for its mac 'n' cheese over the years, and the creamy pasta was an ideal match for the soft, springy meatball on top, all of it brightened up by a nicely acidic tomato gravy.
I've been seeing meatballs on a lot of Houston menus lately, as we seem to capitalize on food trends a couple of years after they catch fire in New York, LA, and Chicago. There's a whole meatball section on the menu at City Oven, for example, and Sandy Witch Sandwich Company is turning out an insanely good "Rasputin" sandwich filled with housemade meatballs, San Marzano tomato sauce, Provolone, and a pickled cherry pepper mayonnaise that makes it sing.
On the lighter side, we also gave the asparagus and fried oyster salad a spin and came up with another winner. Although I personally feel it's too early in the year to start eating raw Gulf oysters again—you want to wait until that first cold snap so they really plump up—it's never a bad time to eat them fried. The salad (a loose term here) came with six of them, cornmeal battered and still soft inside, the jiggly innards—God, how I love them—mimicking the soft ooze that poured out of the two poached eggs served alongside the oysters.
There were also four fat, nicely charred stalks of asparagus, a couple of rashers of maple-sweetened bacon, and—finally—some avocado slices and arugula for good measure (and to rationalize calling this extravagant dish a salad). I found myself completely ignoring the Ranch dressing on the side, a mortal sin for any Texan, as the flood of yolk from the eggs was more than sufficient to dress the greens.
As much as it pained me, I had to pass on dessert after such a filling lunch. BRC has several of its own desserts, but also brings in other pastries from Petite Sweets—home of amazing macarons and old-fashioned custard topped with owner Susan Molzan's family recipe for hot fudge that contains Kahlúa and vanilla in addition to chocolate.
I wanted one of BRC's milkshakes with a slice of Petite Sweets' red velvet cheesecake thrown in. (Yes, this is a real thing that BRC does—as does its sister restaurant, Liberty Kitchen.) But I thought of old King Adolf Frederick and decided that I'd save death by dessert for at least another 20 years.