Brasserie Saison serves quality many ways

A restaurant with many styles of cooking and a knack for giving back

Brasserie Saison Review
Brasseries can be a good place to see familiar faces or to try something new, but always feel representative of their neighborhood through the food and atmosphere. Tucker Wilson | Cavalier Daily

In the European restaurant world, the local brasseries of small towns and sprawling cities alike are known for good food, lively and casual atmospheres, plenty of drinks and a connection to the community. Brasseries can be a good place to see familiar faces or to try something new, but always feel representative of their neighborhood through the food and atmosphere. At Brasserie Saison, Charlottesville’s own European fusion brasserie, these traditions are followed truly, but with an upscale twist that elevates the cooking and modernizes the feel.

Open for less than two years, Brasserie Saison appears to be a new kid on the block. However, the restaurant is owned by Ten Course Hospitality, a local restaurant company and the owner of other Charlottesville favorites like Bebedero and The Alley Light. Through Ten Course, Brasserie has the experience of decades in the restaurant industry even as a new restaurant itself, and its connections to successful restaurants all over the City will surely continue to give it an edge over the competition.

Being owned by Ten Course also gives Brasserie access to their prominent brand of service. Ten Course Hospitality is known for its community engagement, and the Brasserie extends its hand in the same way. A quick scan of its calendar reveals several different community events, from Sunday benefit brunches for charities, music nights to support local artists and special events to reward its loyal companies. It seems Brasserie is establishing itself as a community hub and a way to get a feel for Charlottesville, a strategy that sounds appealing to both townies and college students — and their parents.

From the kitchen, the Brasserie offers a wide range of foods from many different origins, but all the offerings are tied together by the use of fresh, locally sourced ingredients and expert preparation. Their small, shared plates style menu allows for plenty of sampling. Evening diners can start with offerings from across European cultures, like Dutch bitterballen — small dough balls filled with steak and deep fried to crisp perfection — or scallops served a la meuniere, with a crunchy fried top coating and a traditional brown butter sauce to which the Brasserie adds an Asian twist with a bit of sesame. You could also choose a more American dish, like locally grown tomatoes paired daily with other fresh vegetables and herbs, a refreshing way to start a late summer meal.

For its larger offerings, Brasserie Saison follows its greatest cultural influence — Dutch cooking. The two specialties of their large plate menu are tinned fish, a Dutch staple dressed up for the evening with saffron, a caper dressing or caviar, and moules frites stewed in a variety of permanent and rotating styles. Our table tried their daily special preparation, containing fresh corn, red onions, parsley and a white wine sauce, and loved the fresh and summery choice to compliment the weather. For those looking to stick to more American offerings, the pork chop and steak frites are certain to satisfy the American palate.

The highlight of a dinner at Brasserie, however, comes last. Though the offerings for dessert are limited, those on the menu are impeccable. The popcorn pudding is a playful take on buttered popcorn, featuring a top and inner layer of tiny, sweetened popcorn kernels and a smooth, almost caramel pudding with a hint of fresh citrus. The ice creams are also delicious — freshly prepared and in tantalizing flavor combinations. We tried cinnamon toast crunch, peanut butter with chocolate fudge, and dark chocolate topped with sea salt. While all were good, the dark chocolate was maybe the highlight of the evening — rich, smooth and with just a hint of saltiness — it was complex and totally satisfying.

If sitting down for a multi-course dinner sounds a little long — and admittedly, it is — Brasserie Saison also serves lunch all week and Sunday brunch accompanied with live jazz music. While I have not personally had their daytime offerings, a look at the menu and the memories of the food I have tried suggest equally high levels of cooking.

That’s all for the daily offerings of the Brasserie Saison, but this special restaurant has one more trick up its sleeve. On Fridays and Saturdays, by reservation only and any day for private events, guests can enjoy the Brasserie’s coat room — an intimate and cozy room filled with soft carpet and dark wooden walls. At 6:00 and 8:00 pm two nights a week, guests can sit in the coat room to enjoy a personalized menu complete with paired beer, wine and cocktails. While priced, predictably, far too high for a night out with your college friends, keep it in mind for your graduation dinner, if your parents are willing to pick up the tab.

Brasserie Saison is an elegant yet unpretentious restaurant that serves quality food and has a heart for community engagement. Next time you’re looking for a spot for a fine meal or a way to see a new side of Charlottesville away from the University, consider the delicious dining and quality atmosphere of our own neighborhood brasserie.

Tucker Wilson is a Food Columnist for The Cavalier Daily. He can be reached at life@cavalierdaily.com

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