In the middle of Main Street, across the way from The Galley and behind the Ben and Jerry’s, is a small enclave that houses the newly opened Brick + Mortar. With its tucked away locale and lack of signage, the restaurant is really under the radar on the Main Street scene — but that probably won’t be the case for long.
Up to this point, promotion has relied upon word of mouth not only from foodies, but people in the architecture world as well. The Edgemar Center, which houses the newly opened restaurant, was designed by the esteemed architect and Santa Monica resident Frank Gehry. While not as famous as The Walt Disney Concert Hall, or even The Chiat/Day (The Binoculars Building) down the street, Brick + Mortar is a Gehry. And a Gehry is a Gehry, which was the main draw to the USC architecture majors sitting next to me at the bar last Sunday.
One thing that Brick + Mortar is not is a gastropub, as labeled by many of the Yelpers online. Gastropub is one of those buzz words that gets loosely and incorrectly thrown around like artisan, or organic. Gastropubs do not offer much in the line of cocktails, intently explained by Brick + Mortar’s mixologist, who crafts his own infused liquor, such as the spicy pepper tequila. (Gastropubs don’t have mixologists either.) While you can get some great food the way of the gastropub, proven by The Father’s Office, Brick + Mortar’s menu seems to rise above most of your standard bar food.
Co-owner Travis Lester is proud of the fact that the restaurant doesn’t use a huge freezer left over from the previous restaurant — Saluté. Instead of storing food in it, Lester uses that to chill the wide selection of craft brews.
“Everything is fresh, never frozen” he said proudly.
Braised pork belly, faro, radish and herbs or N.Y. steak, fingerling potatoes, brussels sprouts, truffle parm foam are a couple examples of their fresh food offerings. You can still belly up to the bar during happy hour for a good beer and a beast of a burger for $15 too.
Or you can just decide to throw your entire day away and go for the bottomless mimosas deal during their weekend brunch. While the mimosas are not all that strong, they are also unending, so bottoms up. A great supplement to the unending liquid brunch is the Bloody Mary Bar. For $10 you get a basic but pretty strong Bloody Mary. Next, you head over to a table of options to deck out your cocktail. There for the taking is a cornucopia of pickled vegetables and cured meats, which coincidentally was my nickname in college. I only wish they served the Bloody Mary in a wider glass so I could cram more stuff into it.
As the day went on, people started to file in to watch whatever game was on the flat screens. Seating isn’t much of an issue. The dining room is a wide open space, and there is ample seating outside as well. There is also a D.J., which in most cases would make me feel older than I am, but after a few mimosas and Bloody Marys all was well.
There are many facets to Brick + Mortar: architectural landmark, Sunday Funday destination, and happy hour hotspot. When you put it all together, it is a unique addition to some of the older mainstays on the Main Street food and drink scene.
If you go
Brick + Mortar
2435 Main St.
Santa Monica, Calif.
Michael can be seen riding around town on his bike burning calories so he can eat more food, or on CityTV hosting his own show, "Tour de Feast." To reach him visit his website at tourdefeast.net or follow him on Twitter @TourDeFeastSM.