First Look

First Look: Brentwood is Channeling its Predecessor Houston's

Wild berry cobbler
Wild berry cobbler Lauren Drewes Daniels
Brentwood is now open in Addison, in the space once occupied by Houston's. If you ever ate at Houston’s, you'll recognize the smell. It's like getting a whiff of grandpa's pipe or grandma’s ciggies — it takes you right back.

If the space does indeed feel (or smell) familiar, that was the intent. Hunter Pond, the founder and CEO of Vandelay’s Hospitality, which owns the restaurant, specifically wanted to continue the tradition that Houston’s had established for almost 40 years. Brentwood keeps the classic dark wood and dimly-lit style. Deep booths around the restaurant provide for an cozy dining experience.
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Deep booths throughout the space make for cozy dinners.
Courtesy of Vandelay Hospitality
Vandelay is rapidly expanding across North Texas. The company's other concepts include East Hampton Sandwich Company, Hudson House, Drake’s, Lucky’s Chicken (which recently opened three new spots) and DL Mack’s.

We were invited to a media preview a day before the grand opening. If restaurants are still having a difficult time with staff, we suggest contacting Vandelay for the magic formula. Dozens of kitchen and front-of-house personnel were on hand, along with multiple hosts, food runners and servers for each section. Like the scent, it was reminiscent of old times. Sure, it was a media event, but regardless the team was filled to the brim.

The menu here ranges from sushi to classic Americana. A trio of burgers is center stage on the menu. A classic LTOP with mustard and mayo is $18. House specialties include chicken dishes, steaks and fish, ranging from $21 for a crispy chicken Caesar to a San Francisco rib-eye for $58.
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A shrimp cocktail was bright and light, with tender shrimp that didn't need crackers.
Lauren Drewes Daniels
We started with a shrimp cocktail served with four large, tender shrimp bathed in a house-made cocktail sauce. The saltine crackers really shouldn't be paired with the shrimp here, as that would be a downgrade. 

A Sun Room Wedge ($27) was a perfect dinner on a hot day. A cool wedge of iceberg topped with tomatoes and bacon and a blue cheese dressing was a meal on its own. The 4 ounces of tender New York strip alongside was a bonus and made the dish almost enough for two meals.
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Center-cut prime filet
Lauren Drewes Daniels
A center-cut prime filet ($39) came with a ripe bowl of halved medium-sized tomatoes topped with Gorgonzola and a vinaigrette. There was a lot of protein on the table, but this bowl of fresh, lightly dressed tomatoes almost stole the show.

A wild berry cobbler ($11) with pecans and topped with a big scoop of vanilla ice cream was also wonderful (see photo at top).

Yes, the cocktail menu has an espresso martini. They all do now. Actually, martinis dominate the cocktail menu, including one served with a goat-cheese-stuffed olive. The rest of the drinks are classics: an Old Fashioned, a paloma made with mezcal, and a bourbon and rye Manhattan barrel-aged for two weeks. The Singapore Sling is "served the old world way," which makes us want to go back and see what exactly that means. We hope it's something a bit scandalous.

The wine list is mostly stateside, save for a few whites from France and New Zealand and a pinot grigio from Italy. There's also Gruet, which is a bubbly from Santa Fe. If you're looking to celebrate with a bottle of wine, Brentwood can set you up with that as well. The most expensive item on the menu is a bottle of Tomahawk's Chimney Rock for $275. But you'd rather get that Singapore Sling served the Old World way, right?

Brentwood is open for lunch and dinner. We'd be interested in seeing a happy hour to try some of the cocktails along with smaller samples of those hefty dishes.

Brentwood, 5318 Belt Line Road, 11 a.m. – 10 p.m., Monday – Thursday; 11 a.m. – 11 p.m., Friday and Saturday; 11 a.m. – 9 p.m., Sunday
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Lauren Drewes Daniels is the Dallas Observer's food editor. She started writing about local restaurants, chefs, beer and kouign-amanns in 2011. She's driven through two dirt devils and is certain they were both some type of cosmic force.