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03/06 10 moderate 726 N.24th Street
Beer, Mussels, Duck Chambord, Creme Brulee

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Brigid's is a small, casual, friendly, neighborhood place with good food and great beer. There's a big bar in front and a small dining area in the rear. Blackboard menus change daily, but many of the dishes are semi-permanent. The selections are not strictly Belgian, but the very fine mussels and duck are indicative of the chef's starting points.

Offerings are grouped by price, and there are many good values to be had. The presentation is a bit informal, most dinners consist of an entree, some potatoes or rice, and a salad all crowded onto one plate, but each is well executed, and even if the salad gets a little warm, it all tastes good.

The Mussels we ordered as an appetizer were surprisingly, and delightfully, presented out of their shells, swimming in a buttery, herby, very garlicky sauce enriched with cream. We're so used to getting a huge pile of mussels in their shells that it was almost shocking to discover such a small dish could contain so many of the shellfish. We quickly got over the unfamiliar presentation, practically inhaled the tender mussels and sopped up every drop of the creamy sauce with the excellent bread on the table.

On one of our visits they didn't have the white sauce, so we went with the red, and that tomatoey sauce disappeared almost as quickly as the white had.

Duck Chambord is a crispy half of a duck, bathed in a dark intense sauce with overtones the raspberry liquor. Some chefs make this too sweet or fruity, but I found this to be just right.

Duck Comfit was a crispy duck leg, perhaps a bit too dry, but saved by the crispy romaine lettuce, tangy blue cheese and sweet candied walnuts that resided beneath.

DDP's Cajun Pork Tenderloin was assertively-spiced thick slices of tender pork, bathed in a dark sauce. The chef was a bit heavy handed with the cayenne pepper here, as the flavors here were almost bullying. Nonetheless, we ate it all.

CDP's Veal cutlet in a rich wine and vegetable sauce was a winner. I think it tied the Duck Chambord as a favorite.

Spicy Mahi-Mahi was well-prepared, remaining tender and moist beneath a crusty exterior.

Black-pepper gnocchi could be ordered with a red sauce or pesto. I opted for red sauce, and while not the ultimate example in the city, they were quite enjoyable. The best part was when I asked to take the leftovers home (has anyone ever finished an order of gnocchi? I haven't...) the server returned with the pasta packaged-up with some extra french bread, making for a perfect lunch the neext day. Note to servers: this kind of caring touch goes a LONG way toward engendering loyalty and good karma, and good tips.

A dangerously rich chocolate tart was a terrific end to one of our meals, but the creme brulée was a let-down. The creamy custard was delicious, but the crusty top seemed like it had been "bruléed" a couple of days earlier. It was cold, and not at all crunchy, robbing this elegant dessert of the texture contrast that is its main appeal.

Brigid's has a terrific beer selection, including one or two brews available from a gravity tap. An upstairs room has been specially prepared to keep fresh kegs at an ideal temperature, and deliver the beer to the bar downstairs without adding gas, or even air pressure to pump it out.

Pay attention though, some of the bottled beer can be quite expensive, because it is rare and expensive to import. We had an excellent Westmalle Abbey Double and a Triple, excellent ales, but a sobering $9 each!

But go ahead and splurge on the beer, the food is a good value, with dinner entrees as low as $10, and many more in the low-to-mid-teens.

With appetizers and desserts, and good beer, it can still get expensive, two of us spent almost $60 before tip, but we could have dined cheaper if we had even a shred of self-control. If you keep your beer budget-oriented and spit an appetizer, two might make it out for closer to $30.

Brigid's is not a fancy place, and not strictly Belgian, but they serve good food, and great beer in a friendly, casual atmosphere.

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