Does anyone remember the John McPhee piece in the New Yorker from years ago: "Brigade de Cuisine"? In it the author begins by describing the ten best meals of his life...and they are all from the same unnamed restaurant. Brian's is for me what that unnamed restaurant was for McPhee.
We have had more meals there than I can remember...and not a single one let me down. Yes, some nights when every table is full you may be in for a leisurely evening. That's not the fault of your server. This is one restaurant where the celebrity chef/owner isn't in some penthouse somewhere interviewing cooks for his latest high-end eatery. Chef Brian Held is actually in the kitchen cooking your food! That means on busy nights you should relax, enjoy your wine and conversation, and just wait for the food, because it's *always* worth waiting for. And anyway, for my money, leisurely is preferable to being rushed to turn the table over.
And, okay, maybe this isn't a stuffy starched linen "fine dining" venue. If that's what you seek then you should look elsewhere, but know you will be missing some of the best food of your life.
Brian's is more relaxed—more like an inn. The plates are not 3 bites carefully arranged into fussy works of art but they are wonderful and satisfying. Again, not your style? You have lots of other choices. But it's sad to think you'll never experience his Veal Blanquette or Wild Mushroom Soup just to give 2 examples.
I actually feel conflicted about writing this review. I would prefer to keep Brian's on the down low—it's getting difficult to book a table some nights. But when I read cruel nonsense like: "The pretentious waiter who s.p.e.a k.s s.o s.l.o.w.l.y and the dimwit waitress who MUST be related" I just can't allow that to go unchallenged.
Maybe Brian's isn't for everyone. Maybe it's only for people who love great food at a fair price. But that's enough for me.