The Brick Café possesses a winning combination of excellent, French-inspired cuisine, cozy, romantic ambiance, friendly service and reasonable prices. The dining room is furnished with rustic, wooden tables, antique mirrors, brick walls and a tin ceiling and its lace curtained windows and French doors create an atmosphere reminiscent of a French neighborhood bistro. Fresh flowers and candle glow lent warmth and coziness on a recent rainy evening. The adjoining bar and lounge located at the rear of the restaurant is a popular spot where the sedate twentyand thirty-something crowd enjoys a variety of drinks, espresso and background music while the restaurant serves dinner each evening and a superb brunch on Saturdays and Sundays
The staff at Brick Café is very friendly, polite and efficient. While reviewing the menu, I spread addictive calamata olive tapenade onto slices of crispy French bread, and ordered a bottle of wine from the reasonably priced list, which is printed right on a wine bottle.
The menu reflects French-inspired, Mediterranean dishes that include lots of fresh fish, pasta, meat and poultry. The tempting nightly specials can include a puree of potato and carrot soup, sautéed calamari over slices of corn meal polenta or fusilli pasta with chunks of tender chicken and woodsy mushrooms. One of the most popular appetizers is the steamed mussels, prepared in red or white wine sauce and herbs ($8.95). Grilled shrimp with grilled vegetables is a light and flavorful way to start, while onion soup gratinee served bubbling in an earthenware crock is a perfect rendition of the French classic. The beautiful platter of tuna carpaccio in citrus marinade served with avocado sauce is matched only by the unique flavor of octopus carpaccio, sliced paper thin and served with a mound of fennel salad ($9.95). Both dishes melt in your mouth. Indulge in escargots and soak up the heavenly butter and garlic
sauce with the fresh bread ($7.95). Among the fresh salads offered is the Brick Salad, tossed hearts of palm, chickpeas, tomatoes, cucumbers and shaved Parmesan that seems like a meal in itself. Another wonderful salad combines red bliss potatoes with crisp green beans, sweet beets and goat cheese. It's one of their most popular items, and mine too. The salad special on the evening we visited featured grilled Granny Smith apples below a mound of Romaine lettuce, Gorgonzola cheese and toasted walnuts. Asparagus wrapped in paper-thin slices of salmon, mascarpone cheese and caviar is another indulgence you ought to try.
Brick Café does a fine job with fresh fish, so ask for the fish of the day. A house specialty is the oven-baked orata, a white, flaky, Mediterranean fish prepared with black olives and garlic sauce ($16.95). Striped bass fillet oreganata is another simple yet delicious dish. For a light entrée, try the grilled calamari marinated in lemon and olive oil and served on a bed of arugula and tomato salad.
One of their specialties is a classic French dish, panroasted breast of duck. This succulent fowl is rich in flavor and virtually free of any visible fat, dressed with a sauce of oranges and green peppercorns ($17.95). While grilled paillard of chicken with grilled vegetables is always on the menu, a special that evening featured chicken breast with artichoke hearts and a light yet flavorful sauce.
On the specials list when we dined at Brick Café was an offering of tender beef medallions that the skilled chef prepared with cracked black pepper in a smooth brandy sauce. French style steak frites, served with plenty of crispy home-style fries, is a must-have. A meaty veal chop is grilled to order and topped with Portobello mushrooms and sun-dried tomatoes. Grilled New Zealand baby lamb chops are sublime. All entrees come with fresh vegetables and fabulous mashed or ovenroasted potatoes.
The chef at Brick Café also prepares fresh pasta dishes, such as tender, delicate spinach ravioli with butter and sage sauce ($10.95). Exotic black linguine is topped with a mound of fresh clams, shrimp, mussels, fresh tomato, garlic and oil for a satisfying meal. Soothe your soul with a bowl of creamy risotto of the day, laced with mushrooms, vegetables or seafood, as the chef fancies.
Desserts at Brick Café are also homemade and extra special. White chocolate mousse cake is a three-inch high cloud of fluffy white chocolate mousse. The dark chocolate soufflé is also fantastic. The chocolate bombe is a house favorite, though sublime crme brulee, as well as perfect crepes Suzette filled with fruit jam are also on the dessert menu.
Weekend brunch at Brick Café, served Saturday and Sunday, from 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., is perfect for that special date or a get together with friends or family. There's plenty of outdoor seating to make brunch even more special. The brunch menu offers everything from a host of fluffy omelets to croque monsieur, a classic, a pressed ham and cheese sandwich from France that puts our grilled cheese to shame. An open-faced steak sandwich with sautéed peppers and onions will keep you going well into the evening. Don't forget, the adjoining Brick Bar is a great place to have a drink and relax on the leather couches while listening to great music or chatting over an espresso. The outdoor tables beckon in nice weather and there's a bar menu as well, featuring European style sandwiches on freshly baked bread.
Brick Café is open seven days a week for dinner from 5 to 11 p.m., and weekend brunch is served on Saturdays and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., with dinner service beginning at 5 p.m. In every season, for every reason, Brick Café provides consistently delicious meals in a comfortable, romantic setting at reasonable prices.
Weekend reservations are suggested. For more information, visit their Web site, www.brickcafe.com.