Bar Brigade Front Door
Above the entrance, there's both a field of lavender and a PBR sign heralding the coming of Bar Brigade. That makes sense: Make it fresh, keep it simple. That seems like a fitting mantra for Matty O'Reilly and JD Fratzke, who have partnered up to open this French tavern in the former Ristorante Luci spot.
Neither of those pros would ever try to force a concept or restaurant on a space, or jam something that doesn't make sense into a neighborhood. It's that ethos, coupled with a respect for the bones of a place, that has given this diminutive 40-seater a very organic and homey vibe. With ferns.
Bar Brigade floor
There's an eclectic mix of old and new to the place, they've employed little nods to the past while presenting a fresh face. The new tiles have been hand-distressed so that they better mirror the patina of the rest of the old building, blending into the scheme with the newly built bar.
Even though it is a small space, it feels like there are nooks and crannies all over, made for a sip and a hang.
It's impossible to ignore the amount of green being employed here. It's all real, and more is being added. "We're not allowed to have a patio, due to the bike lanes out front, so we thought we'd bring some of the outside in," O'Reilly told me.
"While we were preparing to knock down the wall between the bar and the dining room, we uncovered this arch that had been walled over. It just fit in the space so well, like a touch of elegance, and we couldn't let it go." For how busy the bar could get, I think having an open, but actual, wall is awesome. Fratzke and Gretchen Perbix of Sweetland Orchard were busy unboxing some ciders.
The dining room is one room, with rescued church pews positioned as seating against the walls. Yes, that is a giant fern. If you're feeling a bit of 70's groove, you're not wrong.
Along with warm and subtle wall covering, the team installed a drop-frame ceiling of slats, so they could extend their green space to overhanging plants. A trick they employed at City House as well.
Bar Brigade chef
Just so you understand the size of this spot, here's the full kitchen line. That's it, 10 burners, a grill, no fryer. Which is why ....
Bar Brigade menu
The menu is also brief. Five entrees, a few salads, and small plates will be the general structure that supports a seasonal rotation. I see you, nutella crepe ....
Besides the stainless steel tap line dedicated to rosé, there's one beer on tap. That's all the room they have! But the wine list looks fun and robust, as do the cocktails, which are being finalized with Dan Oskey of Tattersall.
Bar Brigade is not secretly open tonight, that I know, but it might be open within a matter of days (having had a few practice runs with friends and family). Judging by the number of people who popped their heads in while I was there yesterday, this neighborhood can't wait.