Quick Plug before we get to the post :: Consider a donation to the Houston Food Bank to help feed those affected by Hurricane Harvey. Every little bit helps. Now, that’s a food-based charity since this blog is usually food related; however, I also hope folks can support the American Red Cross as well, with whom I worked for many years as part of my career in disaster management and public health. Your few dollars can make a huge difference. Thanks!

Brio got our attention with its vibe. Beachy. Relaxed. Homey. My girls and I walked by the place last weekend while at the Del Amo Fashion Center to break brunch bread at another spot – Great Maple. My youngest noticed the ping-pong table on Brio’s patio. And their stack of jumbo Jenga logs. Looking like a good time, Brio moved to the top of our queue for family outings. I made a reservation on Open Table while awaiting our Great Maple bill. It was a date.

I knew I’d be hungry once I finally made it there, booking our meal just hours after my Disneyland Half Marathon (perhaps I was a little high off my Great Maple doughnut, thinking it a good idea to schedule my post-race meal so far from the finish line). After the race, I sped home to shower and mustered up the energy to head west to Torrance for what I hoped to be a fabulous meal. Once seated, I was overwhelmed by what, at first, seemed like a limited menu. With the lunch and brunch menus combined, along with soup-of-the-day options and a long list of cocktails, I had a hard time deciding on one thing. If money weren’t an option, I’d have ordered their granola crusted French toast, avocado toast, their shrimp n grits, and their grilled salmon and brussels sprouts salad. My oldest opted for the shrimp n grits, so that helped narrow my choices (I have sampling rights). But when the waiter came for our order, in a fit of spontaneity, I asked for the crispy fish sandwich, a plate that hadn’t even been in the running just moments before. I think the words “sriracha honey” in the description caught my attention during a final scan of the menu and couldn’t let them go.

Not to pat my own back, but good decision; though I think it might be hard to steer poorly at Brio. My sandwich kept a wise balance of crunch, tang, and sweetness – a satisfying little package that left me wanting another. My only want was to have the plate served a few degrees warmer. It was evident it had been sitting. Had I not been starving, I would have sent it back. Gold star, too, goes to my kid’s grits (I got in too late for a shrimp), toothsome and buttery rich. On a crisp fall Sunday, I could see myself shoveling infinite spoons of the stuff into my mouth as I binge-watched Stranger Things. Good thing Brio is a tedious thirty minutes or so from my house or I could catch a habit real quick.

We ended the outing the way all meals (even brunch) should finish – with a fatty, indulgent sweet. The gooey chocolate cake lived up to its name, the star of the plate a succulent whipped cream served alongside – I slid each cakey/ice-creamy bite through it for a trifecta of yumminess.

Yet, there was still something yummier! My starter soup – the lobster and crab bisque (or something like that – once I heard lobster, all but the food part of my brain shut down) – stood out as my stand out, a steamy, creamy, and lush blending of the sea. It was nothing but a cup, however. A teeny cup of wonderful cup of stuff that I gulped down in a few mighty slurps; a teeny cup that I hated sharing even just half a spoonful of with my daughter (I’m not good with sharesies when it means handing over some of my food; if it’s the other way around, it’s all good). If this soup isn’t available the next time I roll through,… it’s gon’ be some crazy foodie bee-yatch in Brio’s lobby – huh, huh.

Sorry. I promise never to use another Chance the Rapper lyrical reference again.

This year. Anyway, Brio’s vibe got us in the door, but the food will keep the Browns coming back for brunch and more. Yay, ping pong tables!

Brio Coastal Bar & Kitchen in Torrance, Ohio, and North Carolina
21532 Hawthorne Blvd. at the Del Amo Fashion Center