Crossing over

For more information, visit www.bridgerestaurantandbar.com.

If you can find a place to park, there are a lot of places to eat and drink in midtown. With a gastropub vibe, The Bridge Restaurant & Bar has a lot of competition in the “upscale casual” category. Easy and ample parking might be their ace in the hole.

The menu is organized by "Finger," "Spoon," "Fork" and "Knife" categories, with an "Express" section for boxed lunches and salads. Although this approach follows a certain logic, it can be confusing to find dessert mixed in with soups, sandwiches mixed in with appetizers, and a hodge-podge of everything under “Fork” (seafood, salad, pasta, poutine, tartare, etc.). "Knife" encompasses the more expensive meat entrees (duck, chicken, lamb, beef). A separate menu of beer, wine, cocktails and house-infused liquors includes "Bar Bites.” There’s a lot to choose from.

We started with a Bloody Bridge cocktail ($7.43), sporting basil, housemade Bloody Mary mix, and bourbon. Usually termed a Bloody Belle or Bloody Derby, replacing vodka with bourbon makes for a sweeter flavor with less burn, but I’m not sure it’s my thing. My wife—not much of a drinker—declared it the only Bloody Mary she’s ever liked. Who knew that’s all I had to do to get her to like both spicy cocktails and whiskey?

Blue chips—hand-cut local russets tossed in gorgonzola and garlic fondue, balsamic reduction, cracked black pepper and green onions—were served warm with a side of evil ($9). On first taste, I thought, “This is too much going on,” and my wife said her diet would only allow for a couple. And then they were gone. My wife made a note to spend an extra hour on the treadmill.

My wife’s Nevada beef burger with smoked brisket, mac and cheese, and aged sharp cheddar ($16) was cooked to order and had the texture and flavor that sets grass-fed beef apart from the corny variety, but the brisket didn’t present much smoke or additional flavor. The result was just one form of beef on top of another, and a little underseasoned. I couldn’t detect the cheddar apart from in the mac and cheese, and we both felt the pasta did nothing to elevate the dish. If anything, all that extra stuff just covered up a really good bite of grass-fed beef. Side note on the side dish: Her salad was crisp, with tomatoes possessing real flavor, and it had a delicious housemade dressing.

My cup of American bison chili ($6) was not noticeably different from any other bean chili. If you’re going to use a spotlight ingredient, make sure I can tell it’s there. Any sense of that deliciously lean meat was lost amongst the beans, peppers, tomato, onion, garlic, sour cream, and cheddar. It was tasty, but you’d never know it was bison. Having said that, the side of crackling bacon cornbread should be served with every kind of chili served anywhere at any time.

My entree, fettuccine, was perfection on a plate ($15): house-made black pepper pasta with asparagus, red pepper, cauliflower, sun-dried tomato, and a garlic cream sauce topped with fresh-shaved parmesan. If you like fettuccine and vegetables, you’re going to love this.

We each ordered a dessert of the day ($6) with mixed results. The chocolate pecan pie (with whipped cream) sounded like my wife’s dream come true, yet was nearly inedible. Very dry and crumbly, with a dark chocolate that just didn’t deliver on flavor. The blackberry crème brûlée was totally opposite: a lightly-caramelized top concealing fresh berries and a perfectly balanced custard.

Ultimately, I think these folks just need some time to find their balance, because our overall experience left us eager to try everything on the menu.