Most folks express surprise when I mention this very longstanding Brennan’s tradition of an irresistibly boozy lunch – “The Best Kept Secret in Town!” rightly exclaims the menu – that’s thankfully been unaffected by inflation. From Tuesday through Friday during lunch, for just a quarter you can get a martini – gin or vodka, with olives or a lemon twist – a Cosmo, a melon martini, and more recently something called the Commander's Palace Martini, which sounded a lot like a daiquiri when described to us. You’ve got to purchase an entrée, which shouldn’t be a problem with the tempting menu, and there is a supposed limit three martinis per person. I seem to remember having more than that in past visits. Or did I remember.
The martinis are surprisingly good-sized, if not quite full-sized and were still easily tasty enough, even if they arrived at the table this time at room temperature, not cold. And we overlooked the pesky sluggishness of our server for more rapid replenishments.
Like at most restaurants these days, staffing issues were apparent. Our young servers and manager were friendly though mostly functional: slow, not very knowledgeable, helpful, nor particularly adept. Nothing outrageously bad, but it was a stark contrast to service at other similarly priced local spots I’ve visited recently: Navy Blue, Uchiko, Tony’s, March, Uchi.
But the martinis were just a quarter, after all, and none of us had to rush back to the office. Plus, the food was excellent. There doesn’t seem to be any staffing concerns in the kitchen. In fact, the lunch I had the other day might have been the best one I’ve ever had there and the best meal at Brennan’s since when Danny Trace was the executive chef; he departed for Potente in the spring of 2017.
From the enticing aromas of the complementary toasted bread on the table soon after we were seated that I ate too readily, to the lush, fino sherry-drizzled turtle soup that was as delicious as I remembered, that culminated in a fantastic, full entrée, the Gulf Fish Borgne. That day it was mahi mahi, cooked to a nicely crisp exterior with firm, clean-tatsing flesh beneath, all topped noticeable pieces of jumbo lump crab meat, perfectly cooked medium-sized shrimp and fried Gulf oysters, sitting on a bed of Parmigiano and mushroom-laden rice, all with a sauce highlighted with Creole butter. It was both delicate and rich like a restaurant like Brennan’s can do. The cheap martinis, ambiance, and company helped, too.
3300 Smith (between Elgin and the Spur), 77006, (713) 522-9711
These are really quite cute.