We're definitely in need of a rut-buster. So, we were thrilled when the folks at Brio Tuscan Grille asked if we'd give their NEW menu a try. Can I share something with you internets? I said YES *in my outside voice*. We jumped in our huge carbon-footprint Texas-sized SUV and headed out to Brio's Southlake location and took our taste buds for a test drive.
Since we were busting out of our rut, drinks were in order. One of Brio's new $5 Sobieski Martinis (a Wednesday night special) was definitely the right call. Charlotte went with the Flirtini and our helpful waiter, Stephen Halpin, recommended the Lemon Basil Crush martini for me.
Boomer Brief Exclusive - Brio is working to bring back "the art of the cocktail". Bartenders are sharpening their drink-making and presentation skills to make the bar experience even better. Keep an eye out for some exciting changes coming soon to a Brio near you...
Charlotte's "Flirtini" was the sweeter of the two drinks. It tasted of raspberry, orange and a tropical note (probably pineapple) and she thought it was great. My Lemon Basil Crush martini was drier than Charlotte's drink. The lemon balanced the basil and had notes of fresh cut grass - perfect for a summer's evening.
Appetizers came next. We began with Brio's new Duetto Toscano (translation: Tuscan dips) as an appetizer. The two housemade dips - warm Chorizo Fonduta with sweet Pinot Noir onions, leeks and roasted garlic, and chilled Pepper Formaggio with fresh cilantro, were served with strips of toasted ciabatta. The warm chorizo dip had a slightly smoky taste accented by the sweet onions and the chilled pepper formaggio had a smooth cheese texture that added a nice balance to the chorizo dip. The dips were perfect for sharing - Charlotte and I could have started and stopped our meal right here...but we didn't.
We moved on to Charlotte's fave - salad. Brio's new twist on a summer salad is the Strawberry Balsamic Chicken Salad. It's mixed greens with grilled chicken, grapes, candied pecans, Gorgonzola and a light herb vinaigrette. The dressing complemented the salad without overpowering the greens and chicken and - as a guy raised in pecan country can attest - the candied pecans almost steal the show.
The beef medallions were three, two ounce tournedos topped with grilled marinated shrimp served over orzo (rice-shaped pasta) with sautéed zucchini, asparagus, grape tomatoes and fresh thyme. I don't know how they do it, but the beef was fork tender and the grilled shrimp (which can be rubbery) were melt-in-your-mouth delicious. The orzo was a nice light touch and allowed the vegetables to bring different flavors and texture to the dish.
My one-word review: outstanding.
Charlotte's Citrus Chicken dish was a grilled breast topped with pan seared shrimp, served over orzo with sautéed zucchini, asparagus, marinated tomatoes, fresh thyme and a citrus garlic drizzle. The chicken breast was fall-off-the-bone tender and had a slightly smoky taste that she loved. Of course, she finished her vegetables (they were delicious) after all, this is Charlotte we're talking about!
We would have ordered dessert if I'd thought Stephen's offer to roll us to our car in a wheelbarrow was genuine. Sadly, we had to pass. Next time, we'll leave room Brio's Dolchino Sampler - a sampling of five, deliciously decadent desserts.
So, did we break out of our restaurant rut?
With Brio's help, we happily did. The new menu offerings opened our eyes to something other than pizza and salad and gave us every reason to return.
Every dish we sampled was pitch perfect - from the presentation to the tasting.
So Stephen, dust off the wheelbarrow. We're coming back!
Thanks to our friends at Brio in Southlake, Texas for hosting us.