Trio of restaurateurs bring gastropub to 10th Avenue strip

Briggs Kitchen and Bar offers casual dining with upscale pub food

The strip of 10th Avenue S.W. that’s already home to Craft Japanese Village National and Thai Sa-On just got a new restaurant. Located on the west end of the block Briggs Kitchen and Bar is owned by a trio of restaurateurs that includes Xavier Lacaze who is the former chef of Muse and a Top Chef Canada finalist.

Despite Lacaze’s French roots this is a very Calgary gastropub. The menu may feature bone-in pork belly 48-ounce “Tomahawk” rib-eye steaks and cocktails crafted with Shanghai rhubarb bitters but there’s also a TV behind the bar Bud Light on tap and U2 playing at an inoffensively rockin’ volume as well as a patio.

The space featuring a small patio out front has been completely renovated in what seems to be the new uniform of local eateries. Industrial-inspired lighting dangles from exposed matte black ductwork illuminating black tufted banquettes. In the heart of it all is an open kitchen featuring two Josper Charcoal Ovens known for their ability to quickly grill and roast while providing a distinct smoky flavour.

After ordering a couple of cocktails my husband and I start with the devilled eggs ($9.25). Featuring two elegantly presented hard-boiled eggs stuffed with a mix of yolk and puréed mushrooms these delicious devils are topped with a small chunk of bacon and a smidge of parsley. The smoky mushroom filling is flavourful and presents a nice twist on the old-school hors d’oeuvre. A fine start.

We like the selection of share plates offered on the menu so we get two more. The second dish out is Newf’s poutine ($18) which consists of Kennebec potato fries onion gravy cheese curds and chunks of lobster. I don’t like this one as much. First off the dish is topped with plenty of lobster “bits” but they are too fishy for my taste (and I love lobster). I like the medium-cut crisp fries but they are burnt at the ends from being finished in the oven which has also melted the cheese curds. No squeak here. As for the gravy I don’t pick up on any rich onion flavour and it tastes buttery. My hubby typically loves poutine but we agree that this one needs some fine-tuning especially for 18 bones.

Trying another share plate we get the herb and potato gnocchi ($14). Prepared with brown butter smoked mushrooms and sage this dish is great. Once again I love the smokiness of the mushrooms and the pan-fried gnocchi offers big flavour.

For our main we share the slow-cooked Alberta prime rib sandwich ($17.25) served on a crunchy toasted baguette with horseradish butter. The beef is tender and juicy but the flavour is mild and the accompanying jus is bland. If it wasn’t for the side of horseradish I’d have been disappointed.

We end with the vanilla cream MLF ($8) a deconstructed version of the classic French dessert mille-feuille (also known as the Napoleon) that is typically layered with delicate sheets of puff pastry and whipped cream. Brigg’s take on the dessert isn’t as good. Substituting the pastry with crunchy crepe-like layers (wafers) isn’t the best choice — I would’ve preferred the puff pastry. On the positive side we love the whipped cream fresh blueberries and strawberries — who wouldn’t?

Our experience at Briggs was average. The service was okay but we weren’t told about their unique kitchen or offerings. On the plus side the floor manager was friendly but it’s probably not enough to bring me back for another dinner. Lunch? Maybe.

The devilled eggs. Photo by Josh Naud.