Sampler at the Brown County
Steak and Seafood Co.
Dining out is a lovely way to spend an evening in Brown County. It doesn’t have to be a big event. It could be Wednesday night, a quiet dinner for two in the beautiful natural setting of Brown County, where the scenery always has something new to show you. Accordingly, I picked up my kitchen companion after our day’s labors and squired her out to the Salt Creek golf course, where the main restaurant has recently re-invented itself as the Brown County Steak & Seafood Company. My curiosity was piqued.
If you’ve never been out there, the dining room is welcoming, nicely appointed, and dominated by a wall of glass overlooking the lush greenery of the golf links stretching away below. We took one of the tall tables by the window next to the horseshoe bar and soaked in the sheer beauty of the late afternoon sun breaking across the meticulously manicured landscaping, a soothing and relaxing experience in its own right. The waitress brought the wine list, and I perused it as we idly observed the high school golf team getting in some late practice putting from the edge of the rough onto the greens below. Off in the distance, a foursome of local duffers hurried to get in the last round of the day. She was in a mood for Pinot Noir and there were a couple of good bottles on the very satisfactory wine list. I selected the MacMurray, a ’97 from somewhere around Sonoma. The menu was rife with opportunity, and we ogled it greedily. I wasn’t really in the mood for a salad, although I learned from the menu that Chef Justin has recreated the classic Caesar. I was in more of an appetizer mood, and the BCS&SC has some lovely choices: mussels in a white wine and tomato cream sauce, a steak spring roll, and a classic shrimp cocktail. Someone had recommended the “crab mac ’n’ cheese”—lump crab meat and pasta in a succulent cream sauce. But in the end I opted for the crab cakes, served on a tastefully tiny bed of creamy, carrot-y cole slaw and a scant handful of the thinnest little shoestring fries ever made by the hand of man. Strongly recommend.
My sweetheart wrestled with the entrée menu while I enjoyed the wine and the crab cakes. I know myself well enough to l know that, if I am going to a restaurant with “steak” in its name, I am having a steak. The only question is which one? They have a 12-ounce “New Yorker” topped with a mushroom brandy cream sauce, and there’s garlic-and-herb encrusted prime rib served as an open faced sandwich. There’s a twice-abused “Black and Blue Ribeye” which has been Cajun-rubbed and blackened and then topped with bleu cheese. I wanted the Filet Mignon, eight ounces of center-cut, pan-seared heaven curiously topped with a seafood salsa and accompanied by fresh vegetables and potato. My date dithered between the chicken scaloppini—a grilled chicken breast layered with sliced tomato, crab cake, and Alfredo sauce—and the “hearty pork chop” we’d heard good things about—brined and grilled with a topping of caramelized red onion and apple puree. But, at the last second, she veered off sharply toward the pan-seared scallops with a roasted red pepper and pecan puree. While we waited for Chef Justin to work his magic, we shared a bowl of the excellent lobster and tomato bisque, which was well-balanced, truly tasty, and deeply satisfying. Two spoons in one bowl: domestic bliss. Daylight scattered into gloaming. The die-hards gradually retired from their golfing labors. The wine quietly did its work. A relaxed peace and harmonious delight with the world of nature suffused the evening. We chatted languidly about this and that. The steak arrived in all its meaty glory, with a baked spud and an adorable little metal bucket of hot, buttery bread. The scallops were perfectly cooked—very flavorful, with a seared crust but not rubbery—and the roasted red pepper and pecan puree was, well, unexpected, to say the very least. Quite good, actually. The steak was perfectly cooked and so tender you could literally cut it with a fork. A very tasty bit of beef with a medley of fresh vegetables. There was dessert, of course; lemon meringue pie and I think some nice cheesecake. But I was beyond it, happily stuffed and profoundly satisfied.
Life is good, sitting in a comfortable space, looking at the landscaping, slowly enjoying a sunset and a wonderful meal with someone you love. It’s a good thing.