By Author Unknown | It’s 4:30pm and I’m hungry. Also, I feel cold. Why do I feel cold? After all, it’s the end of May and a very early spring/summer in Beaufort, so why should I feel cold? Answer: I’ve been standing in front of my open refrigerator for the past 20 minutes, staring aimlessly. As any HCOH (head-chef of household) knows, there are just some days where you stand there, staring, as if at any moment a hand will reach out from the inside and deliver all the ingredients and instructions you will need to cook a fantastic dinner for your family. And as I stand in front of mine, staring, staring, staring… I realize that this isn’t going to happen. My mind is completely blank; trying to come up with a dish that is flavorful, balanced, healthy and downright scrumptious every single night can deep fry all your brain cells. And as I hear my husband walk in the door from work and ask “what’s for dinner?”, I slam the refrigerator door shut and triumphantly proclaim “We are going out!”
This HCOH needs a break.
Since we are toting a tot this evening, we need to go some place casual, with a family friendly atmosphere, not too expensive, but with delicious food and a wide assortment of dishes to please even the pickiest of eaters (aka our child). But where? All of a sudden, the first light bulb of the day flickers on in my mind and 15 minutes later we are walking into Bricks on Boundary.
From the moment you walk into Bricks, you know you are going to have a nice, easy going evening. Combining the best qualities of your favorite, hole-in-the-wall college bar, and the relaxed, warm, and friendly atmosphere of your favorite family restaurant, Bricks exudes a laid-back & inviting environment, and is fully capable and willing to offer you exactly what you need, whether you realize it or not, as if to say “Come in, have a pint, watch the game, catch up with friends, enjoy your family, and eat until satisfied.” And from one look at their menu, there really is something for everyone.
We pour over the menu while our daughter charms the pants off of our friendly waiter, and quickly settle on our evening selections. Figuring that little quasi-foodie (our daughter) will probably just share in our selections, I order 2 appetizers, thereby ensuring that out of the 4 ½ items ordered (the ½ being the cup of minestrone soup that comes with my entrée), there will be something that she will be interested in. However, my resistance to ordering from the kids menu is not for the lack of options; it is rather surprising in a wonderfully impressive way that their children’s menu offers both a grilled chicken dish and a dill marinated chicken finger dish, in addition to more traditional Mac n Cheese and hotdog options that are commonplace among children menus.
We order and sit back, catching up on the day with each other, and coloring with our daughter. In short order, our appetizers arrive; a side-order of sweet potato fries (a vice of mine, I freely admit) and beer battered mushrooms and pickles with a horseradish sauce.
Unable to wait for the hot mushrooms and pickles to cool, I dig in. The lovely batter gently embraces the mushrooms without infiltrating the delicate fungi. You are able to taste both the crunchy yet bready outside and the deliciously plump mushrooms without either taking away from the flavor of the other. I must say that Pickles, in general, are not my favorite. I even cringe when I taste a food item that at one time had pickles before being removed. Having said that, I always make an exception for fried pickles. I love them. And I don’t mean love; I mean Love with a capital ‘L’, and these beer-battered pickles definitely do not disappoint. The wonderfully saltiness of the pickles has come to the forefront by being fried in a loving coat of batter, all the while maintaining a slight crunch that is typical of pickles. To counterpoint the flavors of batter wrapped mushrooms and pickles is a wonderfully spicy horseradish sauce. The Sweet Potato Fries are yummy and crispy, with a bare hint of salt to contrast well with the sweetness. And not only is the presentation of both appetizers delightfully charming (in a brown paper bag), but so are the prices; about $5 for Beer-Battered offering and about $2.50-ish for the fries.
Not only is Bricks helping me to avoid my kitchen, they are also helping me to stay within my budget, which it always a plus.
Our waiter soon arrives with the main event. For Mr. Foodie, a Buffalo Chicken Wrap, hold the tomato and onion, and placed before me are Tenderloin Steak Tips in a Gorgonzola-Bourbon-Black Pepper sauce, with mushrooms and onions. Or, as I’ve affectionately come to refer to it as, “The Big Nasty.” It may be big and nasty by looks (and, after all, we do eat with our eyes first), but I am quick to discover that there is nothing nasty about this dish. Nothing at all.
I dive in, slicing into the cheesy goodness, all the while thanking my past-self for having the forethought to take a 1 ½ mile walk earlier that day. This dish is definitely NOT for the health-conscious. It is wonderfully savory, deep but not overbearingly rich. Creamy and cheesy with a nice spiced contrast with the fragrant rosemary and black pepper, along with sweet notes emanating from the ribbons of caramelized onion. The mashed potatoes underneath serve to soak up the sauce, sponge-like, but without a strong presence of potato taste that would, otherwise, take away from the sauce. Earthy, chunky mushrooms are a perfect counterpoint to the tender, succulent tips of tenderloin. The steak itself, contains not a trace of gristle or chewy fat. And slicing and dicing a piece to share with our daughter reveal the perfect medium-rare coloring. Portion wise, it’s big, probably too big. On any other occasion, this would be a negative in my book, but with the creativity lobe of my brain tapped out, this dish has inadvertently helped to continue my streak of not cooking for another night, and I remind myself to ask the waiter for a to-go box. My entree passes every test.
Along with my meal came a small cup of Minestrone, the soup of the day, which was wonderfully hot and full of nicely cooked Orecchiette pasta (which I love though it’s hard to find), veggies, beans, and topped off with fresh basil. It’s delightfully fresh, but due to the enormity of food before me, I can only take a few bites.
I wait for the perfect moment for my husband to be distracted and maneuver my way towards his Buffalo Chicken Wrap. I am expecting a hard tortilla and extremely crispy breading that completely overshadows the chicken itself, but I am pleasantly surprised. The wrap is warm with a slight crisp, and the chicken is delightfully tender and cooked perfectly, and the finish rears a nice kick, buffalo style. (get it?)
My husband takes a few bites of the Twice-Baked Mashed Potatoes, which sounds like an odd pairing (though taste buds want what they want) and passes them to our daughter. I take a few bites with her and find that they are hearty and creamy, and pass muster with my picky child who devoured them with such haste that the feelings of my old-family-recipe mashed potatoes were almost hurt.
It doesn’t take long for us to feel full and satisfied. Armed with multiple to-go boxes and a pretty messy child, Mr. Foodie and I conclude that our family venture to this classic Beaufort spot was 100% successful.
Bricks, with its laid back atmosphere, elevated bar food with a homestyle flair, friendly staff and neighborly patrons, fits into our town like your favorite pair of flip flops, and, much like Beaufort, makes you feel that there is always someone waiting for you, happy to have you here.
Undercover Foodie is a recurring article on EatSleepPlayBeaufort.com in which one of our roving connoisseurs of Lowcountry cuisine will dine at a local Beaufort-area restaurant, anonymously, without fanfare or advanced notice, in a much-lighter form of ‘restaurant critique’, and bring the results here, whether they be good…or otherwise. Bring on the flavor, Beaufort restaurants…you never know who may be ordering.