Santa Monica’s New Hot Spot: Brick + Mortar

Behind the bar at Brick + Mortar

Main Street in Santa Monica just got better! A little tucked away in the spot that was once the wine bar Salute is now Brick + Mortar, a gastropub with fancy food, great drinks, good prices, and a low-key vibe.  I was given the pleasure of tasting a few items and drinks on the menu and also sit down with Travis Lester co-owner and half of the heart and soul of this new Santa Monica hot spot!

The first thing you should know is that this restaurant was only closed for eight days while it was having its makeover. During that time, Travis and his business partner Justin Safier of Broseph’s Restaurant Group (BRG), changed everything from floor to ceiling to bring Brick + Mortar to life.

I used to go to Salute when I lived on the Westside a few years ago. I mostly went because I had a huge crush on one of the bartenders. I can’t remember any of the food or drinks standing out and I always remember signing a pricy bill, even during happy hour. It was just your typical wine bar with a posh Santa Monica crowd. I don’t even recognize the place now! They put brick over the white walls took out the wine taps to make room for more seating. They changed every table and booth, went from six to 24 beers on tap, and filled the cellar with almost 100 different kinds of wines.

I loved the new low-key friendly atmosphere. There was a Lakers game on TV, but I didn’t feel like I was in a sports bar. It was a cool place where I could dress up or down and feel comfortable either way.

From what I saw, everyone was enjoying themselves. We sat down and I perused the drink menu.

All of their specialty cocktails had catchy names and were drinks that I had definitely not experienced before like the Pigs Fly Sazerac, the Cucumber Basil Refresher and the Tijuana Donkey. It was National Margarita Day so in honor, I went for the Fire Raspberry Margarita a blend of in-house spicy infused tequila, muddled raspberries, agave nectar and a splash of cranberry juice. It started out sweet but had a tangy, spicy after taste.

The Big Eye Tuna Tar Tar

Well, if that’s how the game was going to be played, I decided to go for an appetizer to compliment the spicyness that was already on my tongue. I chose the Big Eye Tuna Tar Tar with a ginger and chile dressing. It was delicious! The cubes of tuna melted in my mouth and the crispy won tons gave it a great crunch and toned down the chile flavor. It was wonderful!

The Cheese and Charcuterie Boards

We also ordered a charcuterie and a cheese board. They were both beautifully presented on a wooden cutting board. Everything was just as delicious as it looked!  Our server was very knowledgeable about what each cheese and meat selection was. I would love to come back and have a couple glasses of wine with these plates. With the very generous portions, a few could people could easily share these platters and have a complete meal in and of itself!

The Raspberry Lemon Drop Martini

Then it was time for another drink! I went with a Raspberry Lemon Drop. It was served it a sugar rimmed martini glass and was very sweet and tasty.

I was starting to feel full, but I couldn’t leave without trying an entrée and I am so glad that I did. I went for the Loch Duart Salmon with curried lentils and kale. I have never tasted anything like this before. I never would have expected that salmon would go so well with lentils. It was the ultimate comfort food and it reminded me of the lentil soup that my Grandmother used to make me when I was a kid. The flavor was light and fresh. But without sacrificing taste, I felt like I was eating something very healthy.

Fresh Ingredients

Loch Duart Salmon

It didn’t surprise me when Travis said, “All of our ingredients are fresh, all organic, and picked up daily. All of the meat is bought daily and is free-range and locally grown.” They don’t even have a freezer except a small one for ice cream.

The meal would’t be complete without a specialty dessert. I asked what the best dessert was and without missing a beat the waitress and Travis both said, “The Sticky Toffee Pudding.” Clearly that was the winner. I expected a pudding, but what I got was a toffee cake topped with vanilla ice cream sitting in a sweet, sticky maple sauce. The cake was a little dry by itself, but when I had a bite that had soaked up some sauce, I could see why it was their signature dessert.

Sticky Toffee Pudding

The sauce was clearly what made the dessert so good. I liked it a lot and after the hefty meal I’d had, a light-ish dessert was the perfect way to close the meal.

I can’t compliment Brick + Mortar enough. As I’m writing this I am once again realizing how much I enjoyed my time there and my dining experience. The food and drinks were great, the staff was friendly and very knowledgeable and the prices were quite reasonable. I highly recommend giving it a whirl.

They are having their official grand opening this Thursday March 8th. Happy hour starts at 4 pm and the party is sure to go all night!

I had one last question before the night came to an end. Why the name Brick + Mortar? Travis replied, “We decided to call it Brick + Mortar because we wanted it to be a stand still in the community of Santa Monica. We are here to stay!” It’s standing there waiting for you at 2435 Main St. Call 310-450-3434 for reservations.

About Liesl Jackson:
Liesl Jackson is a writer/actress/comedian/pet sitter living in the heart of Hollywood. She loves the arts, animals, volunteering, traveling, and attempting to learn the acoustic guitar. Email her at liesljackson@yahoo.com. Follow her on twitter @SillyLiesl and follow The Pacific Punch @ThePacificPunch.
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