What hasn't changed is the excellent food, which is prepared by Executive chef Douglas M. Gough, who has been serving his innovative creations at The Brass Rail since 2003.
One of the most notable changes in the downstairs bar area is the lighting, which was custom designed. The cylinder-shaped lights that are hung at different heights cast a warm orange glow throughout the room, and draws attention to the high ceilings, warm cherry wood, and elegant carved staircase that leads to the upstairs dining room. Gone is the brightly colored mural, which has been replaced by a mirror that spans the room and opens up the space.
Gone too are the tiny tables with straight-backed chairs. In their place are comfortable circular leather booths under the windows and high-top wooden bar tables that extend the bar area. This streamlined look is pulled together with amber candles placed on the bar and tables.
Executive chef Douglas M. Gough isn't afraid to mix flavors. With his vast experience in cooking, he uses spices and ingredients from all over the world, mixing Spanish, Asian and French techniques to create his own versions of culinary favorites.
To start with, we tried the fried calamari and the pan seared foie gras.
The calamari has long been a staple at the Brass Rail. Executive chef Gough has put his mark on the dish by combining it with spices and special dipping sauce. This is a great dish to share. The crispy fish are delicately seasoned and are great with or without the spicy Thai dip.
The foie gras was a unique combination of flavors and textures. The diced potato hash, duck confit, and mixed greens compliment each other. This tasty dish was flavored with a port wine reduction sauce.
Other appetizers include: French onion soup, lump crab cake, oxtail ravioli, peach tart, tuna tartar, hazelnut crusted goat cheese salad and mesclun.
The appetizers are priced from $6 to $12.
Next we sampled the braised short ribs.
The tender rib meat rested on a bed of buttery mashed potatoes, and was topped with roasted tomatoes and crispy potato sticks.
My companion loved the ribs that were topped with a sweet sauce. She remarked that they were "the best she's ever tasted."
This is a filling dish that is sure to warm you up on a cold night.
Then we had the steamed salmon and the hanger steak special.
The fabulous salmon was flavored with ginger and was steamed to a light pink color. The juicy buttery meat melts in the mouth. Gough pairs the fish with stir-fried baby bok choy, basmati rice and rock shrimp tapenade. Fish lovers won't be disappointed with this excellent dish.
The grilled hanger steak was cooked to our specifications and came with a large portion of mashed potatoes and asparagus.
The meat was artfully displayed and sliced and was topped with crunchy fried potatoes.
We weren't told what the steak is marinated with but it was juicy and delicious and didn't need additional salt or pepper. The potatoes are whipped until they are fluffy and have a great buttery flavor. The asparagus were firm and had a slightly smoky flavor from the grill. This dish is a large portion. Those with a smaller appetite will want to take some home.
Other dishes include: glazed chicken breast, grilled sirloin, trout, tuna, toasted curried duck, garlic rubbed skirt steak, filet mignon, and tilapia. They are priced from $18 to $30.
Even after all that great food there is always room for dessert!
All the desserts at the Brass Rail are beautifully displayed. We sampled the won tons, the chocolate cake and the carrot cake.
The crisp won tons are filled with hazelnut cream, lightly fried and served with warm chocolate sauce. Delicious!
The spiced carrot cake is flavored with honey and topped with pistachio ice cream, which might sound odd, but the combination is terrific. Once you've tried this, you won't be able to go back to the standard carrot cake topped with cream cheese.
You'll be pleasantly surprised by the banana cheesecake filling inside the warm chocolate cake. It comes with creamy vanilla ice cream.
Other desserts include: crème brulee, fresh strawberries, sorbet, and a cheese platter. They also have an extensive list of dessert and port wines. All desserts are $6 except for the cheese platter, which is $10.
The Brass Rail is open seven days a week. The restaurant hours for lunch are: Monday through Friday from 11:30 to 3 p.m. They are open for dinner Monday through Thursday from 5:30 to 10 p.m., on Friday and Saturday until 11 p.m. and on Sunday until 9 p.m.
Brunch is served on Saturday and Sunday from 11:30 to 3 p.m. Food from the bar menu is available all the time. Reservations are recommended and all major credit cards are accepted.
For Valentine's day they will have a special menu and different seatings. Call for more details.
The Brass Rail is located at 135 Washington St. in Hoboken. For more information, please call (201) 659-7074 or visit: www.thebrassrailrestaurant.com.