Brick + Mortar
I’ve generally found that any restaurant that nails the bread will exceed expectations for the rest of the meal, and Santa Monica’s Brick + Mortar was no exception. The space, with its (no surprise) exposed brick walls, felt both hip and cozy. The fact that large-screen TVs are also broadcasting sports games from the dining room walls belies the superbly elevated pub fare on executive chef Laurent Saussy’s menu.
The aforementioned warm, crusty baguette accompanied by butter sprinkled with sea salt and cracked pepper definitely started the meal on a high note. It arrived with my Fire Raspberry Margarita (one of the many inspired cocktails on the menu) that managed to be refreshingly tart, spicy, and strong all at the same time.
The gastronomic lovefest continued into the first course with the tuna tartar. Of course, tuna tartar is hardly unusual and the ingredients here – chunks of meaty tuna, diced cucumber and radish, avocado and wasabi mousse, crisp wontons, seaweed and black sesame seeds – aren’t revolutionary, but the execution was fantastic. Perfectly piquant, succulent and gingery, this was everything you’d want an Asian-inspired tuna tartar to be.
Next up, the short rib, blue cheese and arugula pizza was definitely as good as the name implies, however, I really wished there had been more of the pungent blue cheese and flavorful tender bites of short rib promised in the name.
The melt-in-your-mouth pork belly that followed rounded out the meal, the flawlessly caramelized meat resting on a bed of perfectly al dente farro and complemented by a celery leaf, radish, and parsley salad. If only I’d saved room for dessert.
Brick + Mortar is located at 2435 Main Street, Santa Monica, CA
For reservations, call 1-310-450-3434