Bramble & Hare opened on 13th, between Connor O’neills and Black Cat Bistro this summer. Apparently, owner Eric Skokan was enjoying the gathering momentum so much at Black Cat that he wanted to stake a further claim to this portion of the 13th Street hospitality scene. It tastes as though his grip on this block will remain sure and true.
Detroit Dancer (DD) and I were invited to a tasting at the soft opening, and we gladly accepted. Entering, you are greeted by low lighting, dark colors and upmarket country feel. Like Black Cat, B&H uses bench seating in an effective way; it encourages shoulder rubbing and mingling with those outside your immediate party. It is one open, low-ceilinged room, with a small bar and counter but plenty of opportunity to people watch and nestle in.
The service is highly polished, personal and intuitive. It seemed that for any question, whether it be addressed to a busser or maître d, they were well prepared with information and opinions, eager to discuss why B&H made a choice to cook something a certain way or what to pair with what.
And although every item wasn’t a hit, the staff seemed extraordinarily knowledgeable about it and open to honest appraisal. The following are first impressions about certain items from an ever-changing menu:
Turnips w/ broccoli, onions and garlic salad: Fresh, well-thought-out and precisely done. Roasted, served cold. A good, light appetizer, perhaps intentionally bland to serve as an intro to other, stronger tastes yet to come.
Duck liver mousse donut with marmalade: Not round, but rather beignet-style, with thick skin. The dumpling sat in a liver and marmalade puddle. It was very tasty and despite the somewhat unappetizing description, it was actually a really lip-smacking treat.
Farm chips: These kettle-style potato chips were merely room temperature and oily, and so not our favorite. We attribute this to a very busy time, a kitchen getting its feet wet and perhaps an overwhelmed server. There’s no reason to think that, fresh out of the fryer, these wouldn’t be incredible.
Smoked Mulefoot pork: Amazing. Came w/ noodles that were so so, but who cares? Get it.
Charcuterie: Had great slices of meats flecked with really tasty fat. Afraid of fat? Get the heck out of here. B&H knows their fat, and this is the finest.
Beet Bun: Steamed bun, all about beets, with crème fresh on side. Very “beety”, great to wipe up the crème with. DD and I disagreed about whether a steamed or filo outer shell would’ve been better: I thought the dense bun matched the beets’ consistency well, but DD thought that a filo dough would have offered better contrast both texturally and taste wise. We did agree that the crème fresh was excellent.
Mixed green salad with fresh Idaho cheese, and crispy onion skins: Unexpectedly interesting and delicious. We neglected to note the kind of cheese, but it was mesmerizing. Yes, mesmerizing and Idaho in the same thought.
Coffee cured beef brisket: Hearty and comfortable but we couldn’t taste the coffee. We wanted to taste the coffee! Nonetheless, a fine cut served generously.
Cherry tart: Worth a visit from a distant planet.
Wine: Excellent selection, given the common ownership with Black Cat. However, the pour could’ve been deeper. My philosophy is to charge more, if you must, but then make it a friendly pour. The money is often forgotten while the memory of generosity lingers on, particularly in this kind of rustic, homey setting.
Bramble & Hare is an upscale, pub-like experience, with sophisticated but comforting farm-to-table fare. Great atmosphere and service make it ideal for a date or to gather with a small group of friends.