Verhille: Brix Cheese Shop & Wine Bar

BY BEN VERHILLE | APRIL 18, 2013 5:00 AM

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The wide array of wines continually change at Brix Cheese Shop & Wine Bar, 209 N. Linn St. Owner and operator Nick Craig handles wine and cheese and each experience at the restaurant is different than the time before.

The variety is  especially impressive considering it just opened in December 2012 by Craig and Brian Flynn.

The specialty cheese selection is changed once or twice weekly by the cheese monger, generally with a selection of five cheeses. Think that’s impressive? The wine list for reds and whites also has five options each and is listed from lightest to fullest on the menu. Come to a wine tasting and sample to your heart’s content.

The bar features six taps, but these, too, change consistently. In case you’d like something to stay the same, there are more than 40 different kinds of bottled beer.

With a menu this adventurous, I would suggest trusting your server to guide you on the first few trips.

I was lucky enough to have Brix server and UI student Dain Coppock to help me pick the Ambrosia plate.

He believes Brix gives the customer the freedom of experience.

“It’s great place to come in and make it as fancy as you’d like,” Coppock said. “All ages feel comfortable in the laid-back environment.”

He made sure to let me know that the more private back dining room was a great place for a date, if I needed to be classy with a lucky lady.

In the heart of Iowa City’s restaurant district, this young establishment has recently become a player in specialties. Brix features berry chutney from Linn Street Café, pickled onions from Devotay, baked bread from Motley Cow, prosciutto from La Quercia, and hummus from Oasis. This collaboration of Iowa City’s specialties allows for interesting and delicious foods that also support local businesses.

I went in the early afternoon, so all I was looking for was an appetizer plate and was not disappointed. The Ambrosia dish is served with triple-cream brie, dried apricots, and balsamic glaze on warm bread. The dish is served ready to eat in six servings on a cutting-board plate. Ready? I sure am.

The balsamic glaze was one of the first parts to stick out for me. Teasing your buds, this necessary and tasty component was important without being too overpowering.

Right beneath the dark glaze lay the dried apricots, a certain tartness revealed a set of flavors I didn’t know existed. The fruit is a great supplement to my two favorite pieces of this dish, the bread that had a slight crisp and warm interior, and the soft spread of the brie was the icing on the cake.

Brix is a great venue for casual and fine diners alike. Also a great place to pick up paired cheeses and wines to impress your friends with your culinary expertise, as you can take anything to go.

Brix is a young — but definitely experienced — restaurant.

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