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Brick & Bottle

Author: Julie Fadda
January, 2011 Issue

Brick & Bottle
55 Tamal Vista Blvd.
Corte Madera
(415) 924-3366
California comfort food
Lunch and dinner daily; brunch weekends
Entrées (dinner): $14-$30
Full bar, nice wine list

As I walked up to Brick & Bottle, a gentleman stepped out and exclaimed, “Have a burger! They’re wonderful!” He had the biggest smile on his face. And while I didn’t follow his advice, I also left with a smile. Here’s why.

First, it appeals to all ages (including a kids’ pizza-making station) and has a friendly, relaxed atmosphere—our server, Liz, was great. Proprietors Marc Sebastion, Blake Andros (both of Blake’s Auto Body) and Bob Simontacchi (who’s chef de cuisine), along with executive chef Scott Howard (formerly of Fork in San Anselmo) opened the place last summer, replacing the popular Izzy’s restaurant, and it’s become a neighborhood favorite. Well appointed with dark wood and leather furnishings, it features a large bar and lounge area, an open kitchen and indoor or outdoor seating.

We began with specialty cocktails, and the standouts were definitely the hibiscus margarita (one of the best I’ve tried; very well rounded flavors) and the Hemingway daiquiri, which was more tart, served up (not frozen) with brandied cherries. There’s also a nice wine and beer list, with several offerings of both on tap. Should you bring your own wine, the $5 corkage fee goes to Guide Dogs for the Blind (first two bottles). Drinking with a cause—I like that!

Everything we ordered came in generous portions. We started with the pork meatballs (tender, nicely seasoned), of which there were four, served atop creamy mashed potatoes and surrounded in a rich porcini mustard sauce. Next was the fritto misto with calamari, shrimp, fennel and lemon (all lightly battered and fried) with a delicious tartar sauce.

The hearty roasted beet salad had sweet red beets, Pt. Reyes blue cheese and watercress dressed with tangy vinaigrette and garnished with crostini. The apple and endive salad had boats of endive with walnuts and creamy goat cheese, watercress, thin-sliced green apples and a light roasted walnut vinaigrette. It had great textures and was a fun, light starter.

The petrale sole is the most popular menu item. Pan-fried and melt-in-your-mouth tender, it’s served with excellent Dungeness crab mashed potatoes, Meyer lemon butter sauce and blanched green beans. The New York strip was charbroiled medium rare and served with a rich goat cheese potato gratin and peppercorn sauce with chanterelles. The sautéed spinach accompaniment had a lot of garlic, which heated up the dish nicely.

When you’re at Brick & Bottle, save room for dessert. Period. The dense, yellow rum cake has a crystallized and sweet exterior and is topped with pecans and thick, rum raisin ice cream, then drizzled with caramel. Hello. The butterscotch pudding is lighter, with whipped cream and homemade brittle sprinkled on top.

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