Brine is Eastham's newest fine dining restaurant. It is a contemporary American restaurant with a strong French influence.
This large, open space, formerly occupied by the Oaxaca Mexican Grille, is now called "Brine" and opened at the end of August.
The large bar occupies the entire middle of the dining room. Seating is a combination of booths and high-top tables surrounding the bar with low top tables in other parts of the room.
The cheerful hostess, Michelle, offered us a comfortable booth.
Zia Auch, the head chef and proprietor of Brine was born and raised in Wellfleet. The daughter of a fisherman, Ms. Auch grew up with those familiar flavors of the ocean, which have influenced her cooking. Colorful old bottles that her father dug up while fishing decorate the dining room entrance. We were delighted to meet Zia's father, by the way!
Our server, Ashley, was very pleasant and helped us navigate the menu while having drinks.
Most of the cocktails are named after lower Cape locations. Mine was the Dyer Prince martini ($11) with rain forest organic cucumber vodka, specs of mint, lemon juice and simple syrup. Very light and flavorful.
We were impressed with the wine and beer menu selections as well.
A basket of freshly baked bread arrived from Au Bon Pain and was accompanied with black garlic moose butter. Hard to resist but the key is everything in moderation.
The appetizers, or small plates as they're called, all looked inviting so my husband and I decided to share a few.
We started with Baked Wellfeet Oysters ($16) The 6 Wellfleet oysters were baked with basil & walnut pesto Parmesan along with black garlic and topped with panko crumble. Of all the herbs basil is by far my favorite. The pesto really complimented the flavor of the fresh oysters without masking them.
As soon as the oyster plate was cleared, we quickly welcomed the Green curry Eastham mussels ($15) In this variation of classic steamed mussels, seasoned with green curry replaces the more traditional wine and cream. Served with crusty grilled bread to savor the richly flavored juices. This was an aromatic treat.
We had to try one more. The Clam Fritters ($9.50). The fritters, a combination of lots of clams, bacon, roasted corn, pink peppercorn aioli, arugula and radish were fluffy and flavorful inside, however, the outside crust absorbed too much of the frying oil.
Time for Beet Salad ($12) to share. Roasted beets combined with wheat berry, walnuts and fresh arugula The beets work really well in this salad because they added some sweetness, color and depth to the wheat berries and arugula. It was dressed with a house made mustard orange vinaigrette which was tangy and sweet and wonderful over the fresh greens and beets.
For entrees my husband ordered the Gnocchi Bolognese ($28). The russet potato gnocchi was pan seared and mixed with a rich New England beef and pork sausage bolognese sauce with cream then topped with a ricotta salata and scallions. The pillow shaped potato gnocchi had exactly the right chewy softness and the bolognese sauce was heavenly.
I ordered the Grilled Swordfish ($32) for my entree. The swordfish, which I requested grilled rare, was topped with Chimichurri sauce. This sauce is usually made from chopped parsley, minced garlic, olive oil, oregano, red pepper flakes, and vinegar. It was served with farro, a type of grain that had a delicious nutty flavor and the accompanied crunchy asparagus and tomatoes were all cooked to perfection.
Fish is, in fact, the weakest part of Brine's menu, I would liked to have had more varieties offered.
We saved room for dessert. Mine was a very good Crème Brûlée ($8) I was impressed by the crunchy crusted maple flavor topping. We finished off with my husband's Chocolate Mousse ($8) topped with strawberries and blueberries and were not disappointed, as it was super flavorful and a somewhat light option to complete a wonderful meal.
Zia Auch is a chef who is dedicated to providing a good dining experience and will have you coming back for more. It achieves casual dining without the starchiness of a white-tablecloth restaurant.
We wish her well on her new venture.
If You Go
Breakfast, Small Plates and Dinner year round
4100 Rt. 6