$ – Brasa

By Steve Sedlak

$ – Brasa
777 Grand Avenue, St Paul
11 a.m. – 9 p.m. Sun-Thurs.
11 a.m. – 10 p.m. Fri.-Sat.Amy’s car pulled up in front of what appeared to be a closed farmer’s market. Mariah Carey’s “Always Be My Baby” was on the radio, and I was loath to get out of the car to shop for organic cucumbers.

“In summer they open up the garage doors and it’s like you’re in a garage!” cried an exuberant Amy.

To my surprise Brasa was not a farmer’s market, or a gentrified garage boutique (which wouldn’t surprise anyone who has ever walked down Grand Avenue). It turned out that Brasa was a relatively cheap American rotisserie. And when I say American, I mean American. The menu features crispy yuca, fried plantains, cornbread, cheese grits and a variety of meat dishes, all variations on the themes of chicken, pork and beef.

The beer selection, however, was subpar. With only three hoppy beers on tap, I ended up resorting to a bottle of Corona to accompany my smoked braised beef and pickled cucumber sandwich. The sandwich was just right, but the mysterious yogurty green sauce was what made the grade of my plate a big fat A plus. I also got a side of crispy yuca, which also turned out to be good in the green sauce.

And yes, I grew up putting ketchup on everything, if you couldn’t guess.

In any case, if Brasa didn’t have its cheap, classic rotisserie fare going for it, at least it would have some junkyard chic street cred. Cool, cylindrical incandescent lights hang above the booths and tables of the main dining room like Edison’s version of the Sword of Damocles. But a lot friendlier.

Maybe Brasa’s real season – the days of open summer windows – is coming to an end. But fortunately for us Minnesotans, the food won’t stop being delicious when the weather turns.