In the past week and a half three of my best friends celebrated their 21st birthdays. Not only do I have ZERO time lately, but I've been stuffing my face non-stop.
To start the celebration off right, about twenty of us decided to get together for some grub and finally legal drinks. Gainesville doesn't have many places that can comfortably accomodate that many people -- except BJ's Brewhouse, a place I was originally skeptical about.
I, however, eat my words.
My favorite part of the menu? The snacks and small bites section. Order gourmet mac & cheese or hawaiian shrimp skewers for just a few bucks.
To start, my friend Kari suggested we split the Mini-Bruschetta. The grilled Focaccia bread was fresh and delightfully soft, while the dish was artfully topped with melted provolone, Roma and sun-dried tomatoes, onions, basil and roasted red peppers. If that wasn't enough, the pesto vinaigrette literally left me ooing and aahing. Dare I say I wanted this small bite to actually be larger? I don't think we left a single morsel on the plate.
The lovely Kari Bannon and I
BJ's menu is so extensive it took me a while to narrow down my selection. Giant stuffed potatoes, pasta, deep dish pizzas and half-pound angus burgers are just a small portion of what's offered on the menu.
Think it took me forever to pick my entree? Choosing a drink took even longer. BJ's is a brewhouse for goodness' sake. The restaurant's beer list is a mile long and the specialty drinks rival some of the best bars in town. In the end, I predictably chose a glass or Riesling.
Parmesan Encrusted Chicken
I know the photo of the Parmesan Encrusted Chicken looks like a hot mess, but it was downright delectable. Coated in a mix of Parmesan cheese and Panko bread crumbs, the chicken was seared a golden brown and served with white cheddar mashed potatoes and steamed broccoli. A lemon Chardonnay butter sauce, sun-dried tomatoes, fresh basil and even more Parmesan cheese brought the dish together in a crescendo of flavors. Each bite brought Southern comfort and memories of my grandmother.
I saved more than half of the dish to-go, but inevitably gave in and ended up eating the rest before we even got back home. Oh well, the food baby was definitely worth it.