The secret behind the tomahawk rib-eye steak? Let the steak do the work.
With the move of Gig Harbor’s Brix 25, chef and co-owner Thad Lyman has learned something fun. Parading a 35-pound rack of prime beef through a dining room attracts a bit of attention.
Call it a great advertisement for the restaurant’s in-house butchering and dry-aging program.
It’s also a symbol of how Brix 25 has changed since Lyman and wife/co-owner Katie Doherty moved their fine dining restaurant in March from its home on Pioneer to its Harborview perch with an exquisite water view. It reopened mid-April.
Parading the beef is Lyman’s pride.
“There’s an integrity in that dish. When I’m carrying a 35-pound rack of meat through the dining room, people notice. There’s no way to fake that. That’s eye candy,” said Lyman.
He turns that prime rack of beef into one of the restaurant’s new signature dishes, a bone-in ribeye tomahawk steak, a 2-pound(ish) meat festival on a plate. He ages it upstairs in a separate refrigeration unit, which is why it takes a trip through the dining room.
It’s titled a “grand plate” along with a signature king crab platter and a whole stuffed fish built to be shared.
Lyman and Doherty say those grand dishes make their restaurant a destination and turn dinner into an event.
“People are now going out to dinner five nights a week. It used to be that dining was an experience. People don’t eat like that now. To be a special occasion place, we have to be different,” said Lyman.
Their approach with the grand plates also is convivial.
“It’s similar to when you’re breaking bread with friends. When you’re sharing and passing the plates around, it’s more friendly and it doesn’t feel stuffy, overworked or over thought,” said Lyman.
Here’s a first-take look of the newly moved restaurant with dining notes.
Theme: The restaurant looks and feels different, but longtime fans will find familiar edges. Meals still begin with a complimentary glass of sparkling wine for all 21-and-older diners. The wine bible still takes a half hour to read. The restaurant still carries an air of luxury but will appeal to millennials with a smaller dining budget (look to the bar menu).
Why move? Since the couple purchased it in 2009, Doherty always felt the restaurant’s magnificence deserved a water view and closer connection to Gig Harbor’s coveted waterfront. It’s next door to their other restaurant, Netshed No. 9. Also, a chance to build a restaurant from scratch.
The space: Airy, open seating downstairs to the right and a bar with a peek-a-boo view of the kitchen to the left. Al fresco dining coming soon. Two areas upstairs appeal to private parties or will host spillover seating when busy. Upstairs also holds the restaurant’s wine “cellar.”
The decor feels casually elegant with an airiness from lots of natural light. More nature is drawn inside with wood tables and layers of reclaimed wood accents.
Noise: Lyman and Doherty worry about noise levels. Acoustic panels have fixed that some, and they’ve ordered more. I never found it as distracting as I do with many newer restaurants, such as just about every restaurant at Point Ruston.
The menu: Half the menu stayed the same, a quarter changes seasonally and the other quarter is new. The food is still a far-flung collection featuring Asian touches, a European backbone and regional American interpretations.
Lyman retooled many standards, such as the restaurant’s famous boeuf bourguignon, swapping mashed potatoes for a combination of pureed and fried parsnips and switching the beef to short ribs (from short ribs and beef cheeks).
They also added several more seafood dishes.
Appetizers: Doherty’s mantra is giving diners choices and flexibility. Her idea was shareable and singular appetizers. Diners can order small luxury tastes from the singular menu for an affordable splurge (or if they’re averse to sharing). The singular menu lists arctic char poke ($14), braised pork belly ($13), four salads ($9 to $10) and grilled asparagus risotto ($11). The shareable menu includes crab-and-shrimp Japanese dumplings ($15), roasted bone marrow ($13), calamari confit ($10) and more.
Dine big or small: I’m a new fan of flexible portion sizes such as Brix 25’s. If you are, too, give Gig Harbor’s new Table 47 a try.
Dinner entrees: The grand plates list that tomahawk steak ($70), king crab platter ($40) and whole roasted branzino ($35). Other entrees, built for one, include spicy Thai curry mussels ($23), pan-fried trout ($28), pan-roasted chicken ($24), braised beef cheek tortellini ($27) and more.
Wine list: A tome befitting a restaurant named after a wine term. Fifteen pages cover bottled wines (affordable to extravagant) and two more list wines-by-the-glass with an emphasis, as always, on Northwest bottles. Don’t miss the cocktail list.
Tip: Half-price wine on Thursdays. Also, the restaurant has validated parking.
On a first visit: If you don’t go big with the tomahawk steak, the New York steak presents a more approachable size and price ($33). A half-pound steak arrived grilled medium rare, as requested, with a tumble of lardons between halved, roasted sprouts, cubed yams and a drizzle of thyme jus.
Steamed cod with a soy marinade was perched on its cooking packet of unfurled banana leaves, with sauteed haricots verts, carrots and leaks ($27). From the appetizer menu, we dug the singular portion of asparagus risotto, a perfect specimen of the supreme creaminess of carnaroli risotto ($11). The shareable cambozola cheese with a stellar honey-pear chutney was just enough for two ($11).
What’s next at the old Brix 25? They’ll keep the old space and open something there this summer with a “meat-centric menu.” Details soon.
The lowdown: As I have written numerous times in the last decade, Brix 25 receives my highest recommendation for fine dining in the region.
Where: 3315 Harborview Drive, Gig Harbor
Info: 253-858-6626 or harborbrix.com
Hours: Bar open at 4 p.m. Thursday-Monday. Dinner at 5 p.m. Thursday-Monday. Closed Tuesday and Wednesday.
Notes: Children welcome. Outdoor seating coming soon.
Validated parking: Park in the lot behind the Ship to Shore store at Dorotich Street and Harborview Drive. Enter through the gate and park under the building or any space leading to the water. A server can validate the ticket to allow exit without paying.