Sometimes I sound like a broken record griping about seared tuna that is over-cooked, over-spiced or otherwise over-wrought to overwhelm its delicate taste and buttery texture. So it is with great enthusiasm that I applaud the stunning seared tuna salad at Bricktop's.
When I checked with the server to make sure the fish would be rare, she cut me off reassuringly. "Oh, yeah, rare, rare, rare," she confirmed.
Indeed, the strip of fish arrived looking like a sushi roll, with a thin white outer layer where the fish had hit the heat and cool jewel-colored flesh inside. The eight or so cross-sections curled alongside a bountiful pile of greens tossed in a light vinaigrette with hunks of mango, avocado, tomatoes and thick strings of crisp carrot. The fish sat on a puddle of salty-sweet soy glaze, which helped to marry the tuna and the greens.
Bricktop's $14 specimen now tops my list for seared tuna salad, beating out my longtime favorite J. Alexander's. While J. Alex. offers a generous and gently cooked specimen of ahi, wonton strips historically outweigh the actual greens.
Meawnhile, a recent trip to Bricktop's reminded me how much I adore the sequel to Houston's. Between the tuna, a mango mojito, fresh guacamole and a prime rib sandwich--all shared on the bustling patio at sunset--I caught myself thinking that, if money were no object, I'd take as many of my meals there as possible. In fact, it seems like there are some folks who do just that. As we were being seated, my dining companion nodded to a guest at the neighboring table. "Do you know her?" I asked.
"Yes," he said. "She sat at the table next to me when I was having lunch here yesterday."