Wine, cheese, jazz, massages, art -- together at last

Wine, cheese, jazz, massages, art -- together at last

November 1st, 2012 by Ellis Smith in Chattnow Dining

Many varieties of cheeses, meats and other items are available at Brix Nouveau. Items clockwise from front are; dried Turkish figs, marinated artichokes, Barolo salami, cowgirl triple creme cheese, peppadew peppers and Gouda cheese in center.

Photo by Angela Lewis/Times Free Press.

IF YOU GO

• Where: Brix Nouveau, 301 Cherokee Blvd.

• Phone: 488-2926.

• Website: www.BrixNouveau.com.

• Hours: 5-11 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday, 3-8 p.m. Sunday.

• Price range: $6 (glass of White Zinfandel)-$109 (bottle of Cade "Napa Cuvee" Cabernet 2007, Napa Calif.).

Many restaurants in the Chattanooga area offer great service. Some price their menu items affordably. A handful also offer a wonderful wine, cheese and meat selections. You almost never get all three.

Brix Nouveau, on the other hand, manages to be friendly and inexpensive without sacrificing the quality of its food and beverages.

It does this by focusing on one thing, and doing that one thing very well: wine.

Brix -- pronounced "bricks" -- Nouveau offers wine with cheese, wine with art, wine with meat, wine with olives, wine with jazz, wine with a massage, wine with a fire pit, but always wine.

The first part of the name, Brix, is Austrian. It refers to a system for measuring the amount of sugar in wine. Nouveau, for those who don't remember their high-school French, means new.

A rotating list of local cheese, meat and vegetables pairs well with any one of the many wines selected by entrepreneur Rosabelle Gorman.

THE MENU

It's a wine and cheese bar, so the menu consists almost entirely of, you guessed it, wines and cheeses.

Glasses range from $6 to $11, while bottles cost from $18 to $109. Whether your palette calls for Riesling, a Malbec or even a Chateau Ross Petite Syrah 2008 from Springfield, Tenn., they've got it here.

While the menu is far from exhaustive, it's got just the right balance of price points and palate pleasures for any type of wine drinker.

There's no set menu for meats and cheeses. It's simply marked on a blackboard each day to reflect what owners have been able to pick up from regional dairies. All of it appears to be carefully selected and unique.

Each order comes with unlimited slices of thin bread, which forms a scrumptious foundation for a meat and cheese mountain.

For those who can't make up their mind or simply enjoy the decision-making process, the restaurant offers tastings of hand-picked wines for between $12 and $20.

THE MEAL

I tried a German Riesling.

The 2010 Kuhling-Gillot Trocken from Rheinhessen, Germany ($34) tasted like honeysuckle from heaven, especially when paired with a two types of goat cheese stacked with delicate slices of prosciutto.

I also tried some delicious sliced peppers that were both sweet and spicy.

Not every grocery-store Riesling finds a refreshing balance for me between sweet and dry, but this particular variety was one of the best examples I've ever tasted.

That being said, every palate is different. The best way to find a good wine is to try as many different wines as possible.

This is a great place to do that, the restaurant owner said a few days later.

"We're trying to cater to the average person," Gorman said. "I do have very high-quality wines that even wine connoisseurs would be happy to drink, but I'm not trying to make it an exclusive environment."

THE SPACE

I've never felt right about drinking wine indoors.

Even during the winter, I feel drawn to the nearest porch or deck like a whale to a cloud of plankton.

Brix Nouveau offers a large porch that seats more than a dozen customers at its location on Cherokee Boulevard. There's a table and chair to suit everybody's style and personality. Whether you like to stretch out with a luscious Pinot Grigio or sit fully upright while swirling a swig of port around in your cheeks, the place has got you covered.

Inside, the restaurant shares space with an art gallery, which lends a slightly cosmopolitan feel to the place. Earlier in October, the restaurant offered free massages from 5 to 7 p.m. with a glass of wine. What more could you ask for?

When I visited on a Friday, jazz singer Joy Divine crooned some heartfelt tunes from yesteryear that lifted my spirits as I lifted my glass in appreciation.

It was perfect.

THE SERVICE

Serving wine correctly is a lost art in Chattanooga, even at Brix, where they should definitely Nouveau better.

I'm not sure if it's because wine drinking itself is a bit unusual or because of the Scenic City's laid-back attitude toward such uptight traditions. Either way, it's rare to find a server who does it right.

But frankly, it's not that hard, folks.

First, present the bottle to ensure it matches what's been ordered. Then, cut off the foil. Unscrew the top, or if necessary, use a corkscrew to loosen and then gently remove the cork with your hands. Don't pop it out loudly; that's just something people do in movies. Much like when the bottle is presented to the person who ordered the wine, now present the cork for inspection.

Finally, pour a small splash of wine for the person who ordered it. If the wine is satisfactory, pour a half glass for each of the women and then to the remaining men.

That's pretty much it.

THE VERDICT

My heart has now embraced the idea a person should be able to get off work, travel within 10 minutes to a venue and sit outside and listen to some light jazz over a glass of wine.

Why this hasn't been offered in this form before is beyond me, but I can't think of a better way to enjoy the fall weather. I loved it and I will return -- with friends.

Contact Ellis Smith at esmith@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6315.