An Unexpected Food Experience

April 2013
Written By: 
Denise Mullen
Photographs by: 
Bobby Altman

The Brentwood Restaurant & Wine Bistro doesn’t disappoint



Alittle advice if you plan to dine at The Brentwood: Expect the unexpected!

There’s nothing commonplace here, and the dining experience calls for an open mind and curious palate.

Perched on a hill in Little River, The Brentwood is housed in a 1910 Victorian manor that first raised a family, then morphed into a boarding house and rooms-to-let respite for fishermen, then became a down-home-style eatery. In the 1980s, the Stublick brothers from Brentwood, New York, restored the fine old home and began a new tradition of serving artful cuisine in a cozy warren of dining rooms, all lit by original fireplaces.

Not willing to merely pass The Brentwood to the highest bidder, the Stublicks handed the keys over to restaurateurs Eric and Kimberlee Masson. The Massons ran two booming restaurants in New York. Eric is a graduate of the prestigious Ferrandi Culinary School of Paris, intent on merging the flavors of his native France with indigenous Lowcountry cuisine.

Our dining experience at The Brentwood began as we entered through the front door at the foyer-turned-hostess station at the bottom of a gleaming wood staircase.

“Bonjour!” a voice boomed from the hallway as our exuberant waiter, Paul, hurried along the rustic wood floor to greet us.

We were ushered into what was once a fine parlor to a table beside the crackling fireplace and presented with The Brentwood’s exciting dinner options: an a la carte menu, a four-course prix fixe menu (with or without the chef’s wine pairings), three levels of the chef’s seven-course prix fixe menu, plus gluten-free, vegan and vegetarian dishes, a separate roll call of homemade desserts and, of course, a wine list.

We weren’t expecting such luscious opportunities, so we decided to dabble with the a la carte selections so we could return another time or two to eat our way through the prix fixes.

But before we placed our orders, Paul rushed in with a pair of demitasse bowls exclaiming, “You must try the chef’s butternut squash soup tonight!”

It was transcendental. Silky, sweet and aromatic with just the right hit of spices.

Already melting into the ambient warmth of The Brentwood, the soup and the house Chardonnay, we delved into a bubbling serving of escargot Bourguignon, warm bread and the luxury of a bowl of butter for each of us.

Without an overkill of butter and garlic, this escargot introduced us to a masterful version that also incorporated wine, cognac and fresh parsley, not to mention the most tender snails I’ve ever encountered.

On Paul’s recommendation, I ordered the Coquilles St. Jacques, a gorgeous plate of pan-seared diver scallops on the most incredible sweet corn risotto, surrounded by confetti strips of candied pancetta. The dish itself was a culinary stunner to gaze upon and every bite lived up to my lusting eyes.

Equally as pageant-worthy, my husband’s rare filet mignon looked couture with lump crab meat, draped by grilled baby asparagus and topped with Béarnaise; so tender, in fact, that he closed his eyes with the first blissful chew.

Paul swooped over to our table, setting down a glass of wine, “Ah, I can’t let you eat that filet without a good Cab. Please sip on this while you eat.”

At that point, I had to say it: “OMG, I love this guy!”

And although hubby is not a big wine drinker, he had to admit that the pairing was a new and wonderful taste sensation for him.

Chef Masson took time out from the kitchen to touch base with each table and Paul offered to take us on a tour of the various rooms and upstairs to the bar area where we learned about the monthly wine club that meets there.

Living a life of fine food, Masson holds regular cooking classes, organizes culinary cruises and plies his skills in a number of competitions, his bevy of awards on display throughout The Brentwood.

A darling of The Brentwood menu is Shrimp and Scallops Chardonnay, an award-winning dish featuring leek fondue and grilled asparagus on angel hair pasta.

And where else might you find seven-course tastings that plate up crispy sweetbreads in puff pastry or seared duck foie gras?

The Brentwood is an out-of-this-world food experience. You could even say it’s other-worldly. After all, you can join in on a Ghost & Gourmet Dinner here, because, by all accounts, more than we mere mortals relish a table at The Brentwood!