Todd Brian’s fills late-night dining niche in Old Town

06/20/2012 12:00 AM

06/19/2012 4:01 PM

Todd Brian’s Brick Street Café & Tavern, the restaurant that took over the former Imbiss Grille space in Old Town Square, fills a niche for Old Town.

Opened in February by restaurant veteran Chris Tincher (formerly with Amarillo Grill, P.F. Chang’s, Ted’s Montana Grill, etc.), it’s a nice-looking Old Town bar with a big menu. Most important, it serves food until 2 a.m. Wednesdays through Saturdays. Wichita’s lack of after-hours dining has long been a complaint of local night owls.

As a bar, Todd Brian’s works well. The selection of beers and mixed drinks is good, and prices are affordable. Bar fare such as nachos and burgers is great.

It falters, though, on its entrée menu, which unsuccessfully attempts Cajun specialties and pastas.

ON THE MENU: Much of the menu is made up of bar standards such as chicken wings, nachos, burgers and flatbread sandwiches. On one visit, we sat at the bar and sipped beer, ordering nachos ($6.99) when our neighbor’s plate looked irresistible. They were fairly standard — chips topped with a nicely seasoned beef, queso cheese, sour cream, salsa and a dollop of guacamole — but they tasted great with the beer, and we cleaned the plate.

On our next visit, we sat in the dining room for a proper dinner. Again, the bar-friendly food was good. We loved our burger, a build-your-own that we topped with bacon. The patty was well-seasoned and pink in the center, and the bacon was crisp. It was as good as any bar burger I’ve had and cost $8.99 with a choice of up to four toppings and a side of fries, which were deliciously thick cut, obvious direct descendents of potatoes.

Also oddly delicious were the crab cakes we ordered as an appetizer. They were small, flat and plentiful and looked more like potato latkes than crab cakes. But they appeared to have been made with real crab and were particularly tasty paired with the tartar sauce served on the side. The chicken tender dinner ($9.99) was also good and came with three generous strips of chicken with a crispy coating, a juicy center and a side of pan gravy. Fries and a bowl of corn were served on the side.

We also tried a half order of baby back ribs, which were tender with a nice smoky flavor. But a half-rack was very small and cost $13.99. The 9-year-old in our party who ordered them was still hungry at meal’s end.

The Cajun meatloaf ($10.99) was a big meal that included a large slice of loaf, made with beef and pork plus two sides. The meat was tender, but the sauce tasted straight from a can. The sweet potato fries on the side were nice, though, with soft middles and crispy ends.

We were most disappointed with a dish recommended as most popular by our waitress — the voodoo chicken pasta ($10.99). It was a bowl of corkscrew pasta coated in a spicy red sauce. Perched on top were two blackened chicken breasts that would have been OK except that the blackening seasoning was so salty it made the chicken borderline inedible. And the crawfish etouffee ($12.99) was a big bowl of rice in a brown gravy with very little texture or crawfish that we could discern.

AMBIENCE: The dining room features a dim lighting and attractive wooden chairs and tables. Wall sconces provide the lighting, making the room invitingly dim after dark. Exposed brick walls and a gleaming wooden bar also are nice touches.

PRICE RANGE: Burgers and sandwiches are $8 to $9. Entrees range from $9.99 to $16.99. The bar also runs great drink specials, including $5 “funtinis” on Mondays and Thursdays, $3 wells on Tuesdays and $2.75 draws Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays.

SERVICE: Our bartender on the first visit was chatty and attentive, just the way a good bartender should be. Our dining room waitress was a little distracted but did fine overall.

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