Tuesday, August 14, 2012

A Déjà Vu Trip to Wine Country at 20 Brix

20 Brix Corner

     Milford’s entry in the regional fine dining sweepstakes is 20 Brix.  It’s certainly connected with residents on the east-far east side because there were only two reservation times available on a Saturday night and the restaurant and bar area were packed from 6 p.m. through when we left at 7:30 p.m.  The name refers to a 
The Wine Shop on the Premises

method for measuring sugar level in wine grapes. The scale’s limits are 18 and 35 so this would indicate a dry wine.  A main focus for the restaurant is an extensive wine and beer list with a great variety of European and American brands.   

The Airy Dining Room
     The interior reminded us of Tinks because of the tall, multi-paned windows with a larger bar that’s in its own area, but discrete from half of the dining area.   Although busy, the noise level is not high and it has a relaxed vibe that is attractive for patrons that might be unnerved about ‘fine dining.’  There was a sense of déjà vu for us that we were in an Ontario winery restaurant.  One drawback, especially since the space was built for this establishment, is that the restrooms are on a lower floor accessible only by elevator.  There’s good signage and the basement hallway is beautifully decorated with articles and reviews about 20 Brix, but it felt like a hike.

Stuffed Figs
     The Stuffed Figs appetizer was excellent because of the meaty, well-seasoned duck sausage and the acidic citrus notes in the marinara sauce.  This was a special that lived up to its name.  Neil and I shared it, while Tom ordered it as part of his entrée.  

Caprese Salad

     The Caprese Salad was fresh with the mozzarella battered and fried – a good touch – and the original element of the apricots did lift it into a new realm.  However, Carole wished they’d sautéed the apricots more to caramelize them

Black Pearl Pork Flat Iron with Braunschweiger
     Neil chose the Black Pearl Pork Flat Iron.  This was the best dish, especially with the melted braunschweiger acting as a sauce.  The pork was beautifully cooked, pointing up a tenderness in the meat that I hadn’t expected because it’s not the best cut.  The fingerling potatoes were beautiful, but a touch undercooked.  I don’t like a roast potato that falls apart, but undercooked root vegetables miss the release of the entire flavor.  The watercress was a perky note.

Pan Seared Day Boat Scallops
     I ordered the Pan Seared Day Boat Scallops and they were meaty, perfectly cooked with two sauces, cream and beet. The scallops were very fresh because there was still a little sand on them.  The beets were somewhere between al dente, which I prefer, and raw, which I don’t. The slab bacon wasn’t necessary and just emphasized the toughness of the vegetables, but I liked the taste of the walnuts.  The mustard dressing on the vegetables was a piquant, necessary touch. 

20 Brix Shrimp and Grits
     Shrimp and Grits as an entrée was unheard of ten years ago on a menu.  The first time I had them was at the original Tousey House, where Executive Chef Paul Barraco worked at some earlier point in his career.  It was an eye opener of a meal at that time and I believe it was before he cooked there.  Carole served them to us a couple of years ago in an excellent preparation because she focused on the shrimp, using tiger prawns, and kept the grits simple with a cream sauce.  The server recommended the dish, but I didn’t think it was that remarkable.  The shrimp were medium, which is too small for a finer dining restaurant of this ambition.  The grits were so smooth that they might as well have been a thickening agent.  The sauce was golden because of smoked mozzarella that seemed more like cheddar cheese and it tasted good, don’t get me wrong, but this wasn’t a southern dish at all.  There were also mushrooms on top as well as scallions.  Neither Carole nor I understood the reason for mushrooms.  Again, it’s about the shrimp and the grits.  If that isn’t going to be the focus, don’t offer the dish.

     Though I’m certain that the desserts had unique notes, the choices were pretty standard and there wasn’t one that featured fruit.  Actually, Carole and Tom had already invited us over to their 1861 Inn for dessert and it was excellent. Carole had baked a large one layer round zucchini cake topped with a cinnamon cream cheese icing.  It was a moist, homey dessert with a surprising twist.  I had two servings.  The recipe is below.

20 Brix on Urbanspoon

Zucchini Cake with Cinnamon
Cream Cheese Frosting

Zucchini Cake with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting

The Cake:
   Nonstick vegetable oil spray
    1½ teaspoons baking powder
    1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
    1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    ½ teaspoon ground ginger
    ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
    ¾ cup oil
    1 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
    3 large eggs
    1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    1½ cups coarsely grated zucchini (about 8 ounces)

Preheat your oven to 350°F. Line a 9-inch round cake pan with parchment paper, and coat it with nonstick cooking spray.
In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg until well combined. In a large bowl, whisk together the oil, sugar, eggs and vanilla, then fold in flour the mixture. Stir in the grated zucchini and pecans, and pour the batter into the prepared pan.
Bake until a cake tester inserted into center comes out clean — the original recipe said this would take about 45 minutes, but my cake was done after 35 minutes, so keep an eye on it. Once the cake is done, let it cool completely in the pan on a rack. When it’s cool, turn the cake out onto a platter and carefully peel off the parchment paper.

The Frosting:
   4 ounces cream cheese (do not use reduced-fat or fat-free), room temperature
    3 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
    ¾ cup powdered sugar
    ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
    ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

To make the frosting, beat the cream cheese and butter in the bowl of a stand mixer until smooth. Add the sugar, vanilla and cinnamon, and mix until combined. Slather the frosting on the cake, and top with toasted pecans, if desired.

Miss Kitty lives at the 1861 Inn Bed and Breakfast in Batavia.  
She's always busy taking reservations so, unfortunately, we've never met. 


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