Wednesday, June 2, 2010

First Bite: Georges Brasserie

First Bite is a look at a restaurant that’s opened recently, based on one visit – not a full-fledged review.

The food: It’s dubbed a brasserie, and has the staples (if not quite the price points) to support the definition – which is a comfortable, informal place in which to get drinks and hearty, usually-single-dish meals. Georges offers steak frites, but in four variations – N.Y. strip au poivre, hanger, filet, ground beef – along with plateaux from the raw bar (variously sized portions of shellfish), onion soup, cassoulet, bouillabaise, hachis parmentier (aka shepherd’s pie), boeuf Bourguignon and more. But there are also dishes of varying provenance: macaroni and Gruyere with bacon, ratatouille with polenta, lamb sausage with couscous; along with a dose of the upscale (that filet and strip, and a $29 veal chop). Still, most main dishes are in the $11-$17 range. Good bread arrives with a crock of butter; a salad of bibb lettuce and goat cheese was generous and simply dressed. Duck confit was fine, though the cooked-in-duck-fat potatoes with them were simply greasy. A newfangled tuna Nicoise placed a tuna steak of average quality atop Yukon Gold potatoes, haricots verts and more, and used good olives, though not enough of them. Mussels arrived (two dozen for $10!) in a surprisingly creamy but good white wine sauce, with nicely done frites. The menu is way light on beers, but the wines are a reasonable collection, with glasses $6-$15.

The look: Formerly the Oceanaire, it’s kept those fab curved red booths, and added black-and-white photography (Brassai posters) to sea-green walls, topping white-linen tablecloths with paper (oddly) and clothing servers in white shirts, black pants and ties.

The service: Not yet the shiniest in the brasserie, ours looked confused when asked what sort of mussels they used. I asked then: “big or little?” He said: “They’re … you know. They’re mussels.” Ah. On the other hand, he did note the Cucumber & Ginger Collins, which included cracked pepper and Hendricks Gin and was … you know. Lovely.

Details: 4620 Piedmont Row Drive; 980-219-7409; and the website is now