Sunday, July 30, 2006


Investment in the Tenderloin is continuing, but it also seems that there's more talk about it than actual delivery. I always hear grand plans of destination restaurants and bars, but once they arrive there's clearly less investment in them than promised (think Olive, for instance). That trend started to change about a year or two ago, most notably with O'Reilly's Holy Grail. O'Reilly's was clearly expensive, with a ton of imported stained glass. Problem is that it doesn't appear to be attracting the crowds that would justify the expense, lending credence to everyone else's low-investment strategy.

Brick is different and risky in a good way. Located at Sutter and Larkin, this place has both the investment and the interest. On top of it, the food is excellent. The restaurant is mostly one large, warehouse-style room with a very large u-shaped bar in the middle. Of course, as you'd guess by the name, there's a lot of brick involved (see left). The front of the restaurant is tall glass - a very bold move in that neighborhood. In a small side room, there are additional bar seats overlooking an exhibition kitchen. Overall, the setting is quite stylish.

The owners are the same folks who have Fly and Solstice on Divisadero. The chef, Noah Tucker, is a younger fellow who worked previously at Michael Mina. They don't take reservations, but the wait isn't atrocious (yet) - at 8pm on a Friday night we waited 20 minutes for counter seats.

The food is new American small plates (how novel!) ranging in price from $8-$16. Examples include ricotta gnocchi, the Brick burger (really two small "sliders"), confit buffalo wings, and drunken mac and cheese (truffle oil and leeks). The best item we had was the tuna crudo served with pickled papaya, avocado, sea beans, kaffir and horseradish. And no, I have no idea what sea beans are. The sourdough-crusted skate and scallops served with sweet corn, leeks and espresso salt were good, but too salty.

The menu leaned hard toward savory and salty and lacked palette cleansers. Luckily, the savory and salty dishes were generally quite good. For dessert, we had a Mini summer pie with amaretto custard, a "berry medley" and glazed apricots. It was decent, but not a highlight. The wine list is well-priced and offers a good mix of new and old world selections.

I would recommend Brick to those looking for something new and exciting (it's only been open two months), but it's more about the whole package and stylish digs than it is about the great food. If nothing else, at least it's interesting.


Sam said...

what investment did Olive promise and not deliver? Just curious cos I never heard that.
I have always been quite fond of Olive and never really ever had a problem with it, apart from when they stopped selling ginger martinis for a while.

suckafree said...

Good point. It wasn't necessarily anything that they (the owners) promised, but rather the expectations developed by reputation that didn't deliver. The owners probably knew exactly what they were doing all along. And yes, I enjoy their drinks too.