Le Plat du Jour at Brasserie 19

Brasserie 19 offers a Plat du Jour each day of the week, with dishes such as a veal blanquette, cassoulet and foie gras. These seem to be more classical French offerings than the other items on the menu. On Saturdays the Plat du Jour is the Milk-Braised Pork Shoulder with local creamy polenta and dressed greens. According to Merriam Webster, a brasserie is an informal restaurant serving simple hearty food, and this dish represents the idea of a brasserie well.

The first thing I noticed was that it's certainly not a pretty dish, especially compared to the several hors d'oeuvres that we had at the beginning of the evening, which were all very light and beautifully plated. The pork shoulder was served in a shallow bowl with the polenta and the pork shoulder seemingly just placed half-halfheartedly on each side, with the dressed greens sitting messily on top.

But if the appearance of the dish fell short, the flavors more than made up for it. The pork was extremely tender, its creaminess cut by the lemon also used in the braising liquid. The polenta was buttery and flavorful and had no hit of graininess.

The only misstep to the dish was the dressed greens, which included asparagus, peas, lima beans, tomatoes and arugula. They were bland and did little to enhance the dish. I would have preferred some of the wild mushroom ragout served with other dishes, as the meatiness would have stood up to the smoothness of the polenta and the gaminess would have complemented the pork shoulder.

But pushing the greens aside, I mixed the pork shoulder into the polenta, creating a casserole of sorts. And I devoured every last bite. If they're anything like this simple and hearty dish, I look forward to trying Brasserie 19's other daily offerings.

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Minh T Truong