Just about everything at The Bryant is locally designed and built-- from the building itself to the items on the menu. Located on the site of the old Morris Bryant on Sagamore Parkway just past Morehouse Road, the name is an homage to that iconic restaurant which was a destination for families and office parties from 1951-1994.
The restaurant is flat-out beautiful, inside and out. The decor is appealing and contemporary with lots of interesting textures. It’s comfortable, roomy, and not too loud. John Christodoulakis, one of the owners, said KJG was the lead architect and John is responsible for the interior decor. He hired six finish carpenters for six weeks to make hundreds of wooden cubes (see photos) which are held together with 5-6000 screws and arranged in geometric shapes hung from the ceiling-- strong enough “to swing across them like monkey bars,” he says, but he’s hoping his guests choose to behave. The outdoor area with a big fireplace, not yet open, looks inviting. It’s attractively screened to cut out surrounding distractions and let you focus on your own experience. The friendly and knowledgeable servers sport non-matching plaid shirts which lends a homey feel.
The owners are John Christodoulakis and his three siblings and their four spouses, and everyone is involved in the new venture. Other restaurants in the family are Christos, Cafe Literato, and Red Seven. The family is devoted to this community and has a mission to use local craftsmen, local beers and liquors, and local foods as much as possible. “It’s all about being local and supporting other small businesses,” John said.
Dining Divas Bev, Jo, and Kay were joined by Dining Divo John Collier who kept confusing his role with the band, Devo. When he wasn’t singing, “Whip it!”, he was enjoying the Warm Pretzel ($6), which was huge and served on a hanger accompanied by Bavarian sweet mustard and beer cheese. John and Kay agreed that it was better than any other baked pretzel they had tasted—light and chewy with a nice crispy crust and a great way to kick off our lunch.
[caption id="attachment_11479" align="aligncenter" ] Pretzel[/caption]
Bev ordered the Brisket and Short Rib Burger topped with crispy onions, house pickles, dijonnaise, lettuce, tomato, and sharp cheddar on a potato bun ($11) with a side salad. (All sandwiches come with a choice of sides: fries, side salad, or soup for $2 more). Bev said her burger was tender and juicy and she loved the cucumber wasabi dressing on her salad. “The wasabi adds a kick to the creamy base,” she said. And she highly recommended the lamb burger and herbed cheese ravioli with candied walnuts, roasted corn, shallots, in a white truffle cream from her experiences on an earlier visit.
[caption id="attachment_11482" align="aligncenter" ] Brisket and Short Rib Burger[/caption]
John tried the Wild Mushroom Burger ($13) which also featured the brisket and short rib mix that is a signature of The Bryant, and was topped with roasted shiitake, crimini, and portobello mushrooms, Swiss cheese, lettuce, and garlic aioli on a potato bun. John said his burger was cooked perfectly to his specification, not overdone. “The mushroom and aioli add a nice blend of flavor,” he said as he worked on the huge side of fries, that he declared delicious. The man loves his carbs.
Jo ordered the Impossible Burger, which is a meatless patty with dijonnaise, sharp cheddar, lettuce, and pickles, usually on a potato bun but she ordered it bunless. ($14). “I’m thrilled that it’s a veggie burger that doesn’t have a high carb count, like so many have,” she said. “It has a much better flavor than most veggie burgers and the dijonnaise was perfect on it.”
Kay, the seafood eater, opted for the Crispy Fish Sandwich ($10) and took the leftovers home to her husband, who, in spite of being instructed in the first rule of being a Dining Diva, that he could not use the word ‘good’, declared it good! (Our goal is to be more descriptive!)
A table near us ordered Birthday Cake milkshakes ($9), one of several signature shakes The Bryant offers. The others are The Fat Elvis (including peanut butter cups and bananas of course) and The Salty Cookie (cookies, candy, pretzels). The Birthday Cake is Instagram-worthy and the couple who ordered them licked the glasses clean.
[caption id="attachment_11480" align="aligncenter" ] Can you imagine taking down this massive shake??[/caption]
We decided to end the meal with Donut Holes ($7), which are piping hot, shaken in a bag with cinnamon sugar, and served by Claire, our delightful server, with a caramel sauce. They were crunchy outside, warm and comforting on the inside, and so satisfying.
[caption id="attachment_11483" align="aligncenter" ] Donut Holes[/caption]
Ours was a work-day lunch for two of our merry band of munchers so we did not imbibe, but patrons will enjoy the broad list of Indiana beers from eight different breweries plus Indiana bourbons and whiskeys. Cheers to this welcome new addition to our local dining scene!
Kay Conner, author and photographer, seafood superstar
Margy Deverall, author of Lafayette articles, dedicated vegetarian
Beverly Shaw, author of West Lafayette articles, bring on the beef (or chicken or pork)
Jo Wade, founder of this food blog, very veggie