Brunch at Brick & Spoon
With cute slogans like ‘Rise & Dine’ and ‘Brunch. Lunch and breakfast’s lovechild,’ a storefront plastered with pictures of ‘benyays,’ and a pretty killer location (corner of Magazine and Washington), we were expecting Brick & Spoon to take brunch very, very seriously. Walking in, we were excited, ya’ll, and ready to get our brunch on.
But that didn’t last long.
From the moment we stepped in, Brick & Spoon gave me mixed feelings. The space is cute. (Who doesn’t want the first meal of the day to include adorable spoon-shaped light fixtures and a subway tile backdrop?) But it was loud. The kind of loud that could kick a mild hangover into a crawl-under-the-table-and-pray kind of migraine.
Things didn’t get much better at the hostess stand. When our party of three (with two and half on the way) walked in there were at least three dirty but empty tables big enough to accommodate us and only a couple of two-person groups waiting ahead of us, but we were told the wait would be at least 45-minutes.
45-minutes? But it isn’t busy and I’m starving. Still, with the promise of a make-your-own bloody Mary bar to come (yeap!), I was determined to soldier on, standing awkwardly and staring at the empty tables I couldn’t have.
That didn’t last long either. Before I could sort out where we should go, a not-so-cheery hostess came up and instructed us to move into the waiting room, which turned out not to be so much a room as a small pen. I was starting to feel boxed in and a little stabby, but then Brick & Spoon flipped it around again. The human holding pen had free coffee and tiny beignets (or ‘benyays’ in Brick & Spoon speak).
I was happy again, but it wasn’t to last. When the rest of our party arrived (complete with stroller for the half pint), another problem presented itself: Brick & Spoon has two staircase entrances. If you’re coming with a stroller or a wheelchair, you have to go around the side of the building and navigate a sharp 90 degree turn up a ramp to get in. (Not cool, Brick & Spoon, not cool at all).
Now, if you’re keeping count…I’d been happy three times, sad three times, stabby once, and we hadn’t even set down yet. That’s pretty much the theme here at Brick & Spoon, you’ll never be quite sure how to feel. Now, let’s get down to the important stuff: Actual brunch.
The good: Before I go any farther, you should know Brick & Spoon has a make-your-own Bloody Mary bar and it is almost worth enduring everything else. You get a checklist to build your own cocktail. And that checklist has everything. Want a deviled egg? Check. Bacon? Check. Blue cheese stuffed olives? Check. The finished product looked more like a work of art than a mere drink. You can even pick you own booze, though, when I went they were out of Absolute and inventory issues aren’t a good thing when you’ve been promised you can literally pour your imagination into a glass.
The menu—while not very big--was pretty varied. You have app options, several kinds of beignets, standard breakfast fare, ala cart sides, and even a couple of standard lunch options like cheeseburgers for those times when you waited so long it’s now lunch hour and you want something greasy. And prices are reasonable.
The bad: Sadly, the varied menu also varied in quality and the food around the table went from ‘pretty good’ to ‘what is this spice I taste?’ The appetizers were the real standout. ‘Deviled on the Bayou’ came with four tasso-deviled eggs, fried oysters on top and Sriracha aioli. The oysters were big, lightly fried and complimented the deviled eggs. The aioli added a kick. It was all good. Our second appetizer, ‘Baked Brie Bruschetta’ was piled high with deliciously-melty brie, apples, pecans and golden raisins. It was heavenly, if not a little too sweet at certain bites.
The rest of the food, however, was met with half-hearted excitement (and this coming from a group of people who’d been waiting for food for two hours). Presentation went downhill after the apps. The shrimp and grits looked mushy. The one green pepper, one red pepper, and small handful of tiny shrimp sunk into the off-white instant grits to form one big pile. Not exactly mouthwatering.
Taste wise, the basic breakfast foods were average. The biscuit was light and fluffy. The bacon was heavenly, but the French toast was undercooked and oddly salty. The grits were instant. Instant like from the little pouches your mama used to heat up. And then there was the hollandaise. It has an unusual--and off-putting--aftertaste. No one could put their finger on what it was exactly, but words like ‘rosemary’ and ‘vinegar’ were bounced around.
The Ugly: If you need great or fast service to have a great brunch, you might want to take a pass on Brick & Spoon. While our server was nice, and the hostesses were better than to be expected, service was slow and irritating at times. It took nearly 20 minutes to get a drink ordered and on the table when the bar was empty and even then the waiter forgot a water and a mimosa until the food had almost arrived. It took nearly 30 minutes before he took our order and it was an hour before the actual meal arrived at the table. The place wasn’t that busy and we weren’t in peak times, so I’m not sure what the hold-up could have been.