My SO and I tried Brasserie 40A in Northampton last night. It was very good, despite a few glitches, and it's definitely going to be on our round of restaurants from here on out.
The bar and restaurant are gorgeous-- dark blues and oranges, cherry wood tables and chairs, simple white dishes and uncomplicated glassware. Chic, simple, nice. Service was great-- very professional and knowledgeable, friendly but not overfamiliar.
I had only a few quibbles-- it took a little too long for our salads/appetizers to come out, but the waitress came over to apologize for the delay, so at least they were aware of it and acknowledging the problem. After the salads and appetizers came, though, the pacing of the rest of the meal was excellent. My other quibble was that there wasn't enough dressing on my salad, which is the first time I've ever had this particular problem.
On to the good stuff-- the menu has lots of choices, though only one vegetarian entree, and no vegan options. The appetizers were pretty unbalanced toward the seafood/shellfish area, which is fine with me, but my SO is a land animals eater with the exception of tuna, so there was little to interest him. There was a nice selection of salads.
Desserts are a good balance of fruit and chocolate and cake and creamy, with a large selection of after dinner drinks. There were almost too many entrees to choose from. The wine list is good, with a good number of wines by the glass, and they have a very wide fancy beer selection-- my SO had a white beer called "Delerium Tremens" that neither of us had ever heard of before.
Sourdough bread and butter came with the water, and there were lots of offers to refill the bread basket.
My SO has the seared sesame tuna, which was cooked perfectly, the black and white sesame seeds on the outside warm and crisp, but not burnt and bitter. The tune was so fresh, briny and oceany. Very clean tasting. There was a giner-wasabi sauce and a sesame oil and white wine vinegar-dressed vegetable slaw that was very tasty.
I had a butter lettuce and mixed greens salad with candied pecans, fresh berries, frizzled red onions, and feta, with a honey-balsamic dressing. There wasn't enough dressing, and there could have been either more rasp/blue/strawberriees and pecans, or less feta cheese-- it was a little overbalanced to the salty than to the sweet, but it was good nonetheless. The salad greens were nice and fresh.
The SO had a roasted half chicken with an herb and spice rub that tasted of oregano, cinnamon, and coriander, among others. The chicken was just under being overdone, but was tasty and not dry. (And some people like their chicken juicier, but a lot are worried about bacteria). The skin was nicely crackled. There were roasted root vegs as a side, with fingerling potatoes and shallots included.
I had the flank steak with (I think this is right) beer and balsamic roasted onions or shallots. It was perfectly medium rare, and very juicy, tasty, and beefy. The onions were a perfect complement. The entree came with mashed potatoes, which I skipped, in favor of more of the side veg. The veg was a mix of cauliflower, cabbage, broccoli raab, julienned carrots and yellow peppers, and was nicely steamed and buttered, without any ingredient being mushy or undercooked. I often judge a restaurant by how they treat their sides, and these vegs were not an afterthought. I had a (big) glass of Chilean merlot which went nicely.
The SO had a lemon champagne granita in a big tuile cup, with fresh raspberries, blue berries, strawberries, and sliced kiwi. The fruit (as with the salad) was perfectly fresh. The granita was just right-- lemony, not to sweet, grainy, with a bit of fizz from the champagne.
I had the coconut panna cotta, which was sort of a panna cotta frozen mousse, if that makes any sense. It was dusted with toasted coconut, which was a perfect contrast against the cool creaminess of the panna cotta. There was a pineapple and mago "sauce" of chunks of fruit surrounding the panna cotta, and it went nicely as a contrast, though it was a little sweeter than my personal preference.
All in all, a very nice place. We had on our business casual clothes, but there were folks in jeans and tshirts and other summer casual clothes, and there was a nice crowd at the bar.
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