An Evening at the Brass Hat

I’ve always been intrigued by places that are easily reachable, but manage to feel far away. The Brass Hat, located in the new Hotel Indigo in Midtown Hattiesburg, embodies that very feeling.  As Jamie said, “The restaurant is very modern and like nothing I’ve seen in Hattiesburg before.”   When we arrived, we were whisked to a cozy corner table next to the bar and right in the middle of the action. The bar was definitely jumping. We saw a large table of couples sharing appetizers, work associates having after-work cocktails, and a group of young women giggling and swapping stories. Before I even ordered a drink, I knew we were in for a fun evening.

LET'S TALK COCKTAILS
Usually during our outings, we will order different things so we can try as much as possible. This night was unusual in that none of us ordered beer or wine. It was definitely a cocktail night  for the Food with Friends crew. However, the beer list is not to be overlooked. In addition to the expected imports and domestic selections, the Brass Hat offers beers from eight regional breweries, including Southern Prohibition, Chandeleur Brewing and Lazy Magnolia, among others. The wine list is equally impressive, boasting interesting selections and fair prices. I already promised my close girlfriends that we will go and enjoy a bottle of my beloved Conundrum soon – my treat! Brittany was especially taken with The Sip cocktail, a concoction made with Aunt Polly’s blueberry lemonade and Cathead Vodka, both of which are made in Mississippi. She described it as the “perfect way to start a meal.” Evan ordered a Seelbach, made with Four Roses bourbon, Cointreau, champagne, and bitters. It was so good he ordered a second one. Jamie started off with a Bee’s Knees with gin, honey and lemon. A classic prohibition drink, this one is served in a tea cup, and we certainly loved watching him sip out of this dainty vessel.   I stuck with gin all evening and ordered some traditional cocktails including a French 75, a Tom Collins and an Aviation.   Each drink was excellent, and I couldn’t begin to say which one I enjoyed the most. We also ordered a Vieux Carre, a Blood & Sand, and a Whiskey Smash, while Rob Walker sipped on a classic whiskey sour in between taking photographs. The cocktails were all lovingly made and I can predict that the Brass Hat will become a regular happy hour spot for me.

LET'S GET THE PARTY STARTED
After having a boozy cocktail or two, it was definitely time for food. We had a difficult time not ordering every single appetizer on the menu. With a little guidance from Daniel Mann, the Brass Hat Food & Beverage manager, we decided on the Local Cheese Board, the Duck Wings, Black Truffle Fries, Smoked Catfish Dip and the Bakwan Sayur.The Local Cheese Board features local honey from Bee Gold and the Brass Hat’s signature pimento cheese hummus, which is exactly what it sounds like. None of us knew what to expect of the hummus and it turned out to be a big hit. Words can barely describe how much we all enjoyed the Duck Wings, which are tossed in an orange chili sauce. I can see myself getting two orders of the wings to-go and eating them in bed while watching trash TV. It is upscale comfort food. Black Truffle Fries… we blew through three orders of them and practically drank the accompanying black truffle aioli.  Enough said! Spooned into individual endive leaves for easy bites, the Smoked Catfish Dip was delectable. The Bakwan Sayur can only be described as a deconstructed inside-out spring roll. They were delicious and had a very satisfying crunch.  

THE MAIN EVENT
When the time came to order our larger plates, we had an easier time choosing.  Each of us had strong feelings about a particular dish, and we were not disappointed with any of them.I had my heart set on a the Blackened Shrimp Flatbread as soon as I saw it on the menu. With shrimp, bacon, smoked gouda, house BBQ sauce, arugula, pickled onions and a balsamic glaze, I knew we were in for a treat. The flatbread had the perfect crispy crust and the flavor combination was top notch.The Beef Short Rib was Evan’s must-try.  We loved the presentation of the short rib on Leidenheimer French bread with caramelized onion and horseradish mayonnaise. It also included au jus and more of those delicious truffle fries. Score!  Jamie suggested that we try the Smoked Pork Chop. Even Brittany, who is not usually a pork chop fan, said this was one of her favorite picks of the evening. The chop is paired with regionally-sourced Delta Blues Rice grits, grilled asparagus and house BBQ sauce. Those rice grits were so soft and delicious; they really complimented the pork. Saving the best for last, the Crabcake BLT was the crown jewel of our dining experience. We were told immediately when we arrived that we HAD to order it.  When our beautiful sandwich came to the table, even the bartender walked over to tell us how much we would enjoy it. “Crabcake BLTs have always been a favorite of mine, and I think I just found the one to top all others,” Evan said. “The green Heirloom tomatoes were the perfect choice to accent the crispy bacon and tangy crabcakes. Fourteen out of 10 – will eat way too many in the coming months.”  Personally, I loved the dill aioli. It was just the perfect condiment and I am serious about my mayonnaise.  

JUST DESSERTS
Although we were full and winding down, we mustered up the strength to try the two dessert offerings. One was the Milk & Cookies which included a Reese’s cookie, a double chocolate chip cookie, and milk from Country Girl Creamery.  Brittany opted to make hers an “adult” milk by adding a shot of Godiva chocolate liqueur to hers. The other dessert was a Chocolate Blondie Brownie Skillet, which is topped with a big scoop of Country Girl Creamery ice cream. It is pure gluttony.

A LITTLE LAGNIAPPE
To our delight, we were then escorted upstairs to tour a few of the guest rooms in the Hotel Indigo. The standard room is spacious and modern. Little touches like easy-to-access USB ports and outlets, a full-size hair dryer and Aveda spa products go a long way with me! We also got a sneak peak of the fabulous luxury suite on the fifth floor, which boasts beautiful views of the Southern Miss campus and The Rock. This is the perfect place for your friends and family to gather for a football weekend, a wedding, or a birthday. I am tempted to book a suite just to enjoy a girls weekend “staycation.”

THE TAKEAWAYS
Although the Brass Hat is centrally located in Midtown, it has a destination vibe. It felt great to seem far away even while in Hattiesburg, and we enjoyed it so much so that we lingered for almost three hours. The service is top notch and we can’t say enough about the quality cocktails and delicious food. I’m impressed by their commitment to incorporate local products into their menu items. The Brass Hat at Hotel Indigo is a wonderful addition to Midtown Hattiesburg and I look forward to making it a regular destination for food, fun, and a much needed taste of luxury.

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