Brassiere St. James impressed me greatly with my one meal there. I think we may be sensing a seismic shift in Reno's dining scene as Brassiere St. James takes some of the hip coolness from Campo. In many ways it hits where Campo aims by making high quality, simple food.
The menu is pretty much high-end bar food. There's meats, cheeses, sandwiches, pizza (they call it flat bread) and some fried foods. Nothing too complex. But it seems to deliver it in high quality.
I only had a beer, French fries and sausages. But I was looking at what others were eating and saying and it seems like they were pretty much hitting across the board.
There was some confusion among the staff as to what part of the menu I could order from since I got there before 5 p.m. I settled on three sausages for $12, French fries for $5 and a $6 wheat beer called The Whitte Album.
The beer arrived first. It was simple. It served its purpose in that it wasn't hoppy so it didn't have the bitterness I don't like in ales. I was happy to drink it but I wouldn't come here just for that beer.
The French fries were cut thin and were perfectly cooked. If you like In N Out burger fries you'll like these. It would be nice to get something different, like spices or pepper or something. The fries came with a garlic aoli sauce and a smokey ketchup that were nice. The aoli could use a little more zing.
I got three kinds of house-made sausage, a lamb, an Italian and I forget the third type. All were excellent. Fresh and tasty and quite distinctive. This was a winner. I hope they keep up this quality. It makes me want to try the charcuterie plate.
I have to give them a shout out for their nice wine list. There's maybe one trophy wine, a Chateaunuef-du-pape sold only by the bottle. Everything else is sold by the glass and they have lots of food-friendly wine for $7 to $10 a glass, including a Scott Harvey barbera from Amador County, a couple of Rhone blends, a Burgundy, an Alsace pinot blanc and a German riesling. This is a more diverse wine list than three-fourths of the Reno restaurants, which focus on cabernet sauvignon and oaky chardonnay. Of course, just because they put it on the wine list doesn't mean the public will buy it. And they serve wine in regular stems, not tumblers like Campo.
The vibe was nice too. I noticed a lot of the customers were middle-aged men wearing baseball-style caps. So it seems, based on my one experience there, to have more of a masculine feel compared to say Campo's elegant feel.
I went opening day and the staff seems to be working out the bugs. There were plenty of employees on hand, which I take as a good sign.
Finding the door was a bit of a task and they could mark it better. I actually parked near an entrance that wasn't marked and walked around half the building trying to find my way in before I found a marked entrance.
Brassiere St. James is off to a good start. They aren't just good compared to Reno restaurants. I think people will rank it as a good restaurant, period. Even Bay Area food snobs will like it.
Brasserie Saint James
901 S Center St
Reno, NV 89502