Brenner's Has a Spooky Dinner for You, and We Take a Sneak Peek at It (Think Gnocchi)

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Photo by Joanna O'Leary
Ryan Braden, the chef at Brenner's on the Bayou, invites you to try some of his not-so-scary entrées on Halloween.

This year, I plan to go to a kick-ass neighborhood Halloween party (on the 31st) at which I may or may not consume a formidable amount of pumpkin curry, cupcakes and red wine. When I heard, however, that Brenner's on the Bayou was hosting a "spirits" dinner with cocktail pairings, I wished I had a time-turner like Hermione so that I could be in two places at one time.

The Boo on the Bayou Spooky Spirits menu is available on Halloween alongside the restaurant's regular dinner offerings. The price tag for the four-course meal is $70, obviously more than you would spend at Whataburger, but it's a veritable bargain, considering each course is complemented with craft cocktails such as the "Apricot Twist" (vodka, apricot preserves, lime juice), whose stone-fruit sweetness is sure to add additional depth to a first course of "hopelessly bleu" cheese, fig and apricot compote with beet reduction on a brioche toast point.

For the second course, diners have the choice of butternut squash soup or one of two salads: house or Caesar, all three of which are accompanied by a brisk cucumber cocktail with gin and elderflower liqueur.

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Photo by Joanna O'Leary
Filet with Port Wine Demi-Glace, Mushrooms, and Sweet Potato Gnocchi

As luck would have it, I had the opportunity to sample early one of the third-course entrée options, the six-ounce filet with sweet potato gnocchi. The tender rare flesh oozed savory blood juices that mingled with the buttery brown demi-glace that was studded with mushrooms. Eating the tender filet bite by bite was a deliciously vampiric experience and one that has left me lusting for more of these steaks. Sweet potato gnocchi were poached, then sautéed in a sage butter sauce so that a thin, almost crisp coating formed around the supple interior. This pasta portion prompted my only criticism, à la "Oliver Twist": "Please, sir, I want some more." A full cup, please, of these delicious nuggets. Or perhaps even a fifth course just of gnocchi!?! But I digress.

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Photo by Joanna O'Leary
The Texas Twister, cocktail pairing for the third course of Brenner's "Spooky Spirits" Dinner

In partnership with this dish was the Texas Twister, an ostensibly demure tequila cocktail whose lovely notes of pomegranate liqueur and tart lime juice enable a latent punch that reminds you (at 32 years young) to sip rather than slurp such concoctions.

I can't imagine a better main course than the filet, though I suspect the other options -- a chicken roulade with arugula, pine nuts and prosciutto over pumpkin risotto, and braised monkfish with red swiss chard, caramelized salsify, charred tomato and vin du merchant -- are similarly dazzling.

Dessert also seems promising, because chef Ryan Braden has designed a caramel and chocolate bread pudding dressed in blood orange semifreddo and caramel sauce. And just to make sure you really need to be carried out of the dining room, a fourth cocktail, made of Malibu rum, Prosecco, and blood orange sorbet, is on hand.

But don't take my word for it (except with regards to the filet). Sup at Brenner's on All Hallow's Eve. And be sure to make reservations soon. I will be with you in spirit.

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Brenner's on the Bayou

1 Birdsall St., Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

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