Every time we pass Brick American Eatery, Edward always asks, “wasn’t that Astral Plane?”
Indeed. Astral Plane was one of our favorite haunts. No one can forget the puffy parachute ceiling, the funky, mismatched dinnerware and delicious food. When it was sold, the rooms were stripped bare. It was one restaurant after another. Now the location is Brick American Eatery.
The rooms are still bare bones with some tables, chairs and banquettes. Edward and I settled in and found the menu lacked focus and the prices were too high.
Cocktails are $11, which is not unreasonable. Our waitress brought us some cold bread and butter.
Duck nachos ($10) consisted of a plate of ordinary chips strewn with a few bits of shredded duck breast topped with a dollop of guacamole and a drizzle of sour cream.
The menu listed tuna wontons, which sounded intriguing. Chefs can stuff a light wonton wrapper with just about anything before they are steamed or pan-fried. Brick’s version ($12) was a disaster on a plate. Four crisp wonton shaped noodles were topped with about half-inch pieces of tasteless tuna and a sweet, pungent, sticky chili sauce. A small mound of ordinary mesclun was placed in the center of the plate.
I assumed the warm Caesar salad ($9) was akin to the grilled salads I have enjoyed in a number of Italian restaurants. It arrived cold, so a fresh one was prepared. It did not fair any better. Two large hearts of romaine spent a little time on the grill, but lacked the smoky flavor and aroma this unique preparation imparts.
The lettuce was limp and lacked flavor as we could not detect any seasonings. The dressing was even worse. A thin, grainy, sour liquid was drizzled on top of the romaine, which, in appearance, reminded me of the white icing which comes with Toaster Strudels. After the pastry pops out of the toaster, you make Jackson Pollock-like squiggles all over the top. Caesar dressing should have a fresh lemon and olive oil flavor. And Edward and I could not taste any Parmesan here.
The entrees at Brick, at the mid-$20 range, are overpriced. Since the three courses we sampled were not very good, Edward and I decided no one could prepare a bad burger or plate of ravioli.
Since Brick is a neighborhood restaurant, I was surprised to find just two sandwiches on the menu: A crab cake and a lamb burger. Crab cakes are, more often than not, quite disappointing in restaurants. Lamb burgers have gained popularity — I enjoyed a big, fat, juicy one at Kennett last year.
Brick’s lamb burger ($16) was pink and not medium-rare. It lacked flavor, it lacked the marvelous juicy dribble one experiences after the first bite. There was some type of bland cheese that melted into oblivion on the lamb, but the tiny dollop of caramelized onions added some flavor, albeit sweet. The french fries fared a little better — at least they were not cool or greasy, but they needed a sprinkling of salt.
Since Brick’s menu travels the world from Mexico to Asia, one would assume some kind of pasta would appear on the menu. Pesto ravioli ($17) was nothing more than a half dozen pasta squares filled with cheese and smothered in a basil sauce. Pesto imparts that marvelous mix of garlic, fragrant heady basil, olive oil, pine nuts and Parmesan. This sauce was limp and watery. Anyone from Genoa would cry if he or she had a taste of this.
We wanted to share a glass of wine and settled on a pinot noir ($9) that was nothing special.
Edward and I could not help pining over the memories of the delicious cassoulet served at Astral Plane and the fresh fish served and beautifully presented at Little Fish when it was housed at the Lombard Street location.
Unfortunately, Brick’s food was overpriced, lacked flavor, texture and eye appeal. The menu should be scraped and a do-over is surely needed.
One tip of the toque to Brick American Eatery.
1708 Lombard St.