Bay Brewery hopes that a 23-foot, two-inch elevation will help it achieve what no other restaurant has done on its Seabrook site: survive a hurricane. A formidable culinary foundation also gives it excellent prospects of withstanding another waterfront threat: competition from the nearby Kemah pier.
The fledgling menu umbrellas steaks, chicken, pork and pasta, but the focus is seafood. Fish, shrimp and oysters appear in a variety of guises, most of which are a good deal more inventive than standard seaside fare. Instead, they reflect the eclectic trend of American bistro cooking, here incorporating many Italian and Southwestern influences. The executions? Outright stunning.
The salads send a strong early warning signal that Bay Brewery does not suffer from the average brew-pub kitchen: They have absolutely no trace of iceberg lettuce, but brim with romaine and delicate field greens.
Care and thought continue throughout the menu. Sauteed shrimp and scallops arrive atop linguine, graced by a marinara with dusky overtones. The pasta could be pulled more quickly from the pan, but the seasonings still work an easy elegance. Nachos take a weird (but nonetheless yummy) turn under the billing of beer-baked oysters, which are lost in an avalanche of bacon, jalapenos and mushrooms. Sweet and spiked with paprika, fresh red snapper is baked -- and served -- in a banana leaf, arranged in a goofy pineapple shape with firm, steam green beans as the crown.
And desserts are enormous in size, number and variety. The chocolate torte, served with one thick triangle propped semi-upright against another, is endearingly, decadently rich; the pecan pie is not sticky and sweet to excess, but actually enjoys a meaty nuttiness.
The brews, too, actually taste like something, unlike the often emaciated offerings of local brew pubs. The potently flavored spread includes a robust Poseidon Porter and sharp, hoppy Riptide Red Ale.
The brightness of the atmosphere also bucks the brew-pub trend. A combination of blond woods, a pitched ceiling and bay-view windows creates a warm, light environment. Outdoors, there's an enormously long galley of covered deck seating, shielded from bay breezes by clear plastic shades.
Inside or out, you can look down on the neon lights of Kemah, in every sense of the pharse. Bay Brewery has the potential to blow the competition -- brew pub and otherwise -- right out of the water.
Bay Brewery. 730 Todville Road, Seabrook, (281) 291-0022