Underground, uncovered: The Coat Room under Brasserie Saison is a real treat

Photo: Stephen Barling Photo: Stephen Barling

You know the saying—“secrets secrets are no fun, unless they’re shared with everyone”—and though it’s likely been a while since you singsong sassed that to a friend on the playground, we’ll remind you that secrets are no fun unless they’re shared with everyone, and we have one to share: There’s a tiny little restaurant tucked beneath Brasserie Saison on the Downtown Mall. It’s called the Coat Room, and all it takes to get a reservation is an email to brasseriesaison@gmail.com.

But make no mistake, this isn’t a speakeasy; that trend is played out, says Brasserie Saison manager Will Curley, and the Coat Room isn’t interested in being exclusive. “If you ask for it and we have it, you get it,” says Curley. Currently, the Coat Room takes reservations for four seatings a week, for eight people each, on Friday and Saturday at 6pm and 8pm.

It’s a small, windowless, warmly wood-paneled room, with four tables, eight chairs, a small bar and ambient French music à la Serge Gainsbourg in the air. The food is similar to Brasserie Saison’s Franco-Belgian menu—mussels, pierogies, steak frites and a warm brownie with salt and pepper ice cream. But there are Coat Room exclusives, such as foie gras, rib-eye steaks and other dishes highlighting proteins from local farms. It’s the kitchen’s chance to experiment with new menu items and flavor combinations, and chef Tyler Teass welcomes guests at each Coat Room table with an amuse bouche, like a savory Belgian waffle with smoked maple syrup.

The Coat Room wine list is different, too—whereas the brasserie focuses on French wines, the Coat Room wine list is more Italian, with Nebbiolos and Sangioveses. As for cocktails, bar manager Reid Dougherty uses top-shelf spirits and makes some cocktail components, like a sarsaparilla vermouth, himself.

A reservation doesn’t lock customers into a minimum purchase, either—whether it’s a single cocktail, dessert and drinks, or a full meal you seek, the service is the same, and it’s likely that Teass will bring out a little extra bite for you, or Dougherty will concoct an aperitif to complement your food. These little surprises are delightful.

“We want to get everyone in here,” Curley says of the space that affords him, Teass and Dougherty with the opportunity to play around with their talents. It’s one secret that will still be fun when shared with everyone.