Brick American Eatery

By Phyllis Stein-Novack

Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 64 | Posted Jan. 24, 2013

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Brick American Eatery aims to serve New American dishes by adding European and Asian flair to area classics. 

Photo by Greg Bezanis

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.

Brick American Eatery

1708 Lombard St.


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Comments 1 - 64 of 64
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1. Dr. Wilson said... on Jan 24, 2013 at 08:54AM

“Why does Edward contInually ask about Astral Plane, even after he's been given the answer? Is he mentally impaired?”

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2. i love brick said... on Jan 24, 2013 at 11:22AM

“Not sure why you rated Brick so poorly. I have eaten here plenty of times for Brunch and Dinner and each experience was nothing short of fabulous.”

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3. Mike said... on Jan 24, 2013 at 12:52PM

“I agree with I love Brick, I have been many times and the food has been good if not great every time, maybe you just hit an off night”

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4. Denise LaRosa said... on Jan 24, 2013 at 03:46PM


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5. Denise said... on Jan 24, 2013 at 03:50PM

“SERIOUSLY....The Food at Brick is FABULOUS. I am so glad I do not listen to your reviews because they suck. I can't believe you still have a job.”

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6. George said... on Jan 24, 2013 at 04:49PM

“not an accurate rating on this place. Nothing like a family owned and operated local restaurant. Plus the addition of the second floor piano lounge makes for a great night out. I live near by and will continue to visit”

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7. Al DiDomenico said... on Jan 24, 2013 at 04:58PM

“Hay review thanks for the free advertising!!!! apparently you need better taste buds read all the comments!!!! we must be doing something right!!!!! Thanks for the support a family form south Philly trying to run a successful business and you write a negative article about us! What happened to brotherlyu love? Thanks for being on our side fyi who shares a glass of wine?”

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8. Skeptic said... on Jan 24, 2013 at 06:32PM

“Good job, Al. Looks like you got your whole waitstaff to write in with positive comments (or else get fired). Or maybe your wife wrote one too.

By the way, the purpose of a review is to honestly report a dining experience. If you can't take the heat, get out of the kitchen. Or read the review for suggested improvements.”

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9. Eric Scola said... on Jan 24, 2013 at 06:33PM

“First of all Astral Plane closed down in 1492 when Christopher Columbus sailed in on the Santa Maria and it will never reopen. Second of all, how are you going to SHARE a glass of wine and then complain about it? Did you put two straws in it too like the Lady & the Tramp? You described the duck nachos appetizer but didn't say whether you liked them or not. So I'm assuming you did but didn't want to say it for some odd reason. The caeser dressing is filled with lemon flavor and the salad is topped with A LOT of parmesan cheese unless the chef is instructed otherwise. Also, for your information, manchego cheese is FAR from BLAND and the ravioli entree comes with NO LESS THAN A DOZEN* ravioli, not a half of a dozen. So I suggest for the 10 South Philadelphia Review readers that are left to go and try Brick American Eatery for yourself for either brunch on the weekends, lunch during the week, or dinner seven nights a week!

*dozen means twelve since you obviously are unaware.”

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10. Dr. Wilson said... on Jan 24, 2013 at 06:33PM

“What is Edward's problem?”

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11. Skeptic said... on Jan 24, 2013 at 06:38PM

“OMG, even Eric Scola is writing in. He must be the bartender. It's so nice to have a staff meeting here.”

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12. Andre Di Cicco said... on Jan 24, 2013 at 06:50PM

“I am not on the waitstaff and I have eaten at Brick numerous times, and all have been more than great experiences. I have had the ravioli on at least three different occasions and each time was better than the time before. There were definitely more than six. The family-like atmosphere is welcoming and makes me feel at home. In addition to many of the other comments, I also find sharing a glass of wine to be a little odd, you should spring for a full glass... aren't you being compensated for this? One last thing, limp was used way too many times to describe even bad food; I'd suggest the reviewer not only gain taste buds, but a thesaurus because the two most important things to have while writing a review are vocabulary and taste. Sauce cannot be limp, it is not a solid.”

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13. Skeptic said... on Jan 24, 2013 at 07:00PM

“Oh oh. Now Andre Di Cicco weighs in. THE Andre Di Cicco. Not on the waitstaff. Hangs with the wise guys. Watch out boys, Skinny Joey may come in here next. Sit with your back to the wall.”

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14. Andre Di Cicco said... on Jan 24, 2013 at 07:05PM

“Yeah skeptic, THE ANDRE DI CICCO, because I'm so intimidating... keep making suggestive comments behind your pen name, it got you so far. I'm just explaining my experience, the same way this BS reviewer explained hers.”

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15. John S. said... on Jan 24, 2013 at 07:11PM

“This woman hasn't been right about ANY restaurant yet !!!! I suggest the Review get another reviewer as this one has no taste buds !!! She is only good for one thing - giving the opposite reviews as everyone else in the known universe !!! My suggestion to anyone reading her reviews ( I use this term extremely loosely ) is to do the complete opposite of what she says & you are GUARANTEED to be satisfied !!!!”

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16. John S. said... on Jan 24, 2013 at 07:21PM

“Hey Skeptic
Keep your fake tough guy comments to yourself ! Keep throwing names around moron !!!!”

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17. John S. said... on Jan 24, 2013 at 07:53PM


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18. Skeptic said... on Jan 24, 2013 at 10:10PM

“John S. is here! He must do dishes at this restaurant. John, you say "giving the opposite reviews as everyone else in the known universe !!!" Ha ha ha. OK, John, give us all an internet link to ONE such positive review. HA HA. Can't do it? ROFLMAO. I guess Phylis's review stands, because we have nowhere else to go in the known universe. HA HA.”

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19. Dr. Wilson said... on Jan 24, 2013 at 10:13PM

“So is it Dementia that Edward suffers from?”

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20. Anonymous said... on Jan 24, 2013 at 10:22PM

“This has got to be the funniest set of comments yet for this column. And we haven't even heard from Marty Medals yet. LOL.”

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21. Adele said... on Jan 24, 2013 at 10:22PM

“Why so undeservingly harsh and rude, Phyliss? Did the idea that Astral Plane has finally been replaced with a restaurant that provides delicious food with ambiance actually throw you and Edward over the edge? Get over it, the granola crunch and sprout group has left the planet. This is truly the most unprofessional review I have ever read. It was more like a personal vendetta and an assasination of these hardworking entrepreneurs and their business. I can not believe the Review continues to keep a vicious and inept critic on staff.”

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22. Skeptic said... on Jan 24, 2013 at 10:37PM

“Ladies and Gentlemen, please welcome the lovely Adele. Clap clap clap. She has several other pen names (see above). She either sleeps with the manager of this restaurant or she IS the manager. I hope you enjoyed his/her comments, and now please pay attention as she slowly, provocatively does her dance. Hopefully that will distract our Genoan customers from the limp and watery ravioli sauce.”

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23. shin said... on Jan 24, 2013 at 11:06PM

“Sounds like skeptic is friends with the writer. Brick only has like 4 employees lol small place. I been there twice. The writer of the article also gave stogie joes ( on passyunk ave) a bad review and that place is doing very very well. This review don't sound helpful to brick. Sounds like a personal attack. Brick received two bad write ups since they opened up and the place always looks busy. Just like stogie joes. Maybe the writer brings a reverse effect. Lamb burger is very good. I thought the over priced comment was crazy. They run all kinds of specials on a daily basis and are very accommodating. They bought me and my date 2 apps just because we got the talking with the bartender. Employees are cool there. Family atmosphere is fun. Food is good. If anything when it's busy food takes a little long coming out but I was there on a packed Saturday night. everyone is a foodie today. Criticism is one thing but this is over the top. If I did work there I'd be upset”

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24. Jocelyn Winters said... on Jan 24, 2013 at 11:37PM

“I have read your reviews a few times and disagreed but this time is the most off you have ever been. My husband and I also remember the beloved AstraPlane and miss it as well but Brick is a pleasant twist to the memorable building. The staff is always extremely welcoming and attentive and the food is even better. I can also say the menu has changed a few times since they have opened and has continued to get better with every new addition. I LOVE the lamb burger and my husband is obsessed with the duck nachos and the thai chilli shrimp. You also FORGOT to mention they have an awesome brunch which offers bottomless drinks! You must be crazy, miserable, negative and have no taste for good food based on every review you have written. I have also had Eric as a waiter three times and every time, he was GREAT!”

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25. catchel said... on Jan 25, 2013 at 01:47AM

“While this is not my kind of place at all, one thing is clea..r this reviewer is poor and is just mad that it was sold years ago..shut up mrs stien-whatever”

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26. John S. said... on Jan 25, 2013 at 04:21AM

Keep rolling on the floor!! You obviously eat off it!!! No dishwasher needed !!!”

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27. jo jo said... on Jan 25, 2013 at 12:10PM

“Unfortunately, Phyllis is speaking the gospel here folks. This place needs one of those restaurant make-overs from Robert Irvine.

Astral Plane was a great neighborhood bistro(actual good food worth traveling for) and Fish also shared some moments of greatness. Brick however, is a minor step above a T.G.I. Friday's. You should've went to Pub and Kitchen, Grace, or the Resurrection Tavern for a proper meal.

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28. Carol P. said... on Jan 25, 2013 at 12:39PM


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29. Carol P. said... on Jan 25, 2013 at 12:43PM

“I agree with Adele. Sounds like you have a personal vendeta against Brick or perhaps you were having a bad day, maybe coming down with the Flu. I have been to brick several time and find the service and atmosphere great and the food is delicious. Also, I think the prices are very reasonable. Maybe you should give it another try when you are feeling better!!!!”

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30. Marty Medals said... on Jan 25, 2013 at 12:46PM

“I would comment on the review but that would me that I had to read it first.
Since I am eating lunch and wish to keep it down I will wait till some time passes.
I did however read every comment. Great stuff.”

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31. Erin J said... on Jan 25, 2013 at 02:41PM

“This thread needs to be PUBLISHED! This is the most action the Review has seen in years. Eric Scola should start writing for them!”

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32. Anonymous said... on Jan 25, 2013 at 03:47PM

“I'm rolling on the floor reading Eric scolas comment hahahahahah”

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33. Mia said... on Jan 25, 2013 at 07:26PM

“I just want to say that all this negativity is crazy!!! Brick is a great place...good food,nice atmosphere with a warm,welcoming staff- What is the problem here??? Go and enjoy it or get over yourself,you are not the end all be all of restaurant critics.”

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34. mala said... on Jan 25, 2013 at 07:27PM

“FYI Skeptic ,Adele is not the manager nor is she sleeping with the manager or even knows the manager .She is a schoolteacher who lives on the main line and is married to one of Philadelphia's most prominent doctors. She would never hide behind a pen name like yourself. Who are you?? Edward?? To each his own....Different strokes for different folks...Everyone is entitled to an opinion, but who would take the opinion of someone who shares a glass of wine. Brick is a great spot with good food, cozy atmosphere and decent prices.”

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35. Anonymous said... on Jan 25, 2013 at 08:40PM

“If Phyllis is causing this much controversy, I'd say she's doing her job as a food critic quite well. Keep it up Phyllis. Don't listen to these personal attacks. It's petty. If you don't like what she says, don't read the review. Simple.”

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36. Angel said... on Jan 25, 2013 at 09:19PM

“Exactly right don't read the review!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

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37. Skeptic said... on Jan 25, 2013 at 09:51PM

“Some guy at this restaurant has w-a-a-y too much time on his hands. Perhaps he should spend less of it inventing aliases here and more of it improving those tasteless tuna wontons.”

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38. Dr. Wilson said... on Jan 25, 2013 at 10:09PM

“Edward, nobody here seems to be able to explain your problem. Why do you keep asking the same question over and over?”

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39. Madam Librarian said... on Jan 25, 2013 at 10:55PM

“Well, we have a doctor, a schoolteacher from the Main Line, a skeptic, and a bunch of Italian gourmets chiming in here, so we may as well have a grammarian:

Phyllis, you don't say the second warm Caesar salad didn't "fair" well. It didn't "FARE" well.

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40. mr. joe said... on Jan 26, 2013 at 12:18AM

“Or you could just read all the bad Yelp reviews.”

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41. mr. joe said... on Jan 26, 2013 at 12:28AM

“According to Yelp, Phyllis was way too kind.”

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42. Anonymous said... on Jan 26, 2013 at 10:04AM

“I had the great pleasure of having Eric as my waiter every time I went to Brick. He was a delight! As for the food and the atmosphere, I thought it was excellent. I don't know why everyone is getting upset because nobody even reads the review anymore as you can see every week it gets thinner. And btw, Stogie Joes is a great place too! There was a place she wrote about before that she loved and I thought it was disgusting. Keep up the good work Brick!”

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43. Skeptic said... on Jan 26, 2013 at 06:30PM

“So the truth comes out: Eric Scola is a waiter at this "eatery." Before his shift do you think he eats the tasteless tuna wontons, the flavorless lamb burger, or the limp lettuce salad? I'm betting he bags a PB&J from home. LOL.”

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44. Dr. Wilson said... on Jan 26, 2013 at 07:35PM

“Finally! The bartender at Brick has clued me in on Edward's repeated questions. All these years he's been pleading for an "Astral Plain": the Astral Gateway cocktail without lemon. See

As Phyllis would say, you are so limp, Edward!”

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45. Anonymous said... on Jan 27, 2013 at 12:32PM

“Listen, people, sh*t happens. Look at Today's Inquirer for a trashing of a Main Line restaurant by Craig LeBan. True, he has a better command of English and gastronomic concepts than Phyllis, but he has done the same there that she has done here: disapproved of an eating establishment due to a substandard eating experience.

Now what you have here that Inquirer readers don't have is a more folksy, friendly neighborhood approach. Criticize Sandy's insular eating tastes or Edward's strange utterings, but admit it's kind of fun to read about and even make fun about. AND, we all get to comment and go back and forth on our opinions. This is the fun and happening local forum. Enjoy it for what it is. You still get to eat wherever you damn please.”

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46. Slim said... on Jan 27, 2013 at 07:30PM

“Could part of the problem be the name "Brick"? It immediately brings to mind a tough slab of pink meat that I have to saw through!

Apple Computer would never name one of its smartphones "iBrick". So maybe this joint should consider rebranding. Atter they hire a new cook.”

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47. Jen said... on Jan 28, 2013 at 11:23AM

“I'm only posting here because I figure if Phyllis gets fifty comments on this review (an SPR record!) she can rest on her laurels and RETIRE.

Help me out guys...we only need one more comment!”

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48. Mr. Fishtown said... on Jan 28, 2013 at 03:22PM

“Love all your reviews Phyllis. Keep up the good work and get well soon.”

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49. Anonymous said... on Jan 29, 2013 at 12:59PM

“Just a FYI here, Yelp does not give this place the greatest reviews either”

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50. Anonymous said... on Jan 29, 2013 at 01:10PM

“Phyllis actually raved about this place compared to some more respected critics.

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51. barryg said... on Jan 29, 2013 at 02:23PM

“The prices are outrageous because they run Groupon or similar specials constantly. With a coupon the prices are reasonable for some Sysco crap thrown together by a mediocre cook.”

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52. steins a nut said... on Jan 29, 2013 at 02:32PM

“Here goes the truth. She only gives positive reviews to places that she knows the owners. I been all over the city to eat and have to say Brick is good. Not the best in the city but no where as bad as she explains. nOT BAD AT ALL. I think that they shared a glass of wine is hysterical!!! ahahaha. I think its time for STEIN TO RETIRE AND WHO CARES ABOUT EDWARD! I am sure BRICK is doing just fine. Free advertising whether its negative is still advertising and IF you people have any sense you will not listen to this old cheap ass!! Try it out you will not be dissapointed!!! And i do not work there or own it nor do I sleep with anyone there! TRY IT.”

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53. Anonymous said... on Jan 29, 2013 at 02:36PM

“Eric Scola? that's the name of a guy on Grindr all the time. I thought he worked at CVS.”

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54. GinHead said... on Jan 29, 2013 at 03:02PM

“"WHO CARES ABOUT EDWARD?" I do! You want this guy in the bunker next to you when under attack. Caring, strong, and loyal. And he can order a Sapphire Martini in 7 languages!”

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55. Meat Lover said... on Jan 29, 2013 at 06:56PM

“Phyllis says the lamb burger was pink and not medium-rare. I'm 67 years old and have equated those two terms since my first steak 50 years ago. Could someone explain how I'm wrong? Or has Phyllis been sharing too many glasses of wine?”

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56. Meat Lover said... on Jan 29, 2013 at 07:04PM

“According to the National Cattlemen's Beef Association and the U.S. Department of Agriculture:

Rare: Center is bright red, pinkish toward the exterior.

Medium-rare: Center is very pink, slightly brown toward the edges.

Medium: Center is light pink, outer portion is brown.

Well-done: Steak is uniformly brown throughout.”

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57. Moderator said... on Jan 30, 2013 at 01:53PM

“Thread closed.”

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58. New Moderator said... on Feb 2, 2013 at 02:31PM

“Thread re opened”

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59. JoeAmbrosini said... on Feb 2, 2013 at 08:07PM

“Ive eaten at Brick numerous times and love it

The portions are large
the prices are reasonable and the taste amazing

Luckily no one reads the South Philly review and this review will not impact business

I personally like to call out the reviewer for a questionable track record of supporting restaraunts only part "of the tribe"”

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60. Moderator said... on Feb 5, 2013 at 04:48PM

“JoeAmbrosini banned for anti-Semitism. Thread reclosed.”

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61. Will said... on Feb 6, 2013 at 11:02PM

“Why does every supporter of this Brick place have a name that ends in a vowel?”

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62. Anonymous said... on Feb 13, 2013 at 04:22PM

“One of the problems is Jolly Weldon has one of the worst names in the dining industry.”

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63. Anonymous said... on Oct 23, 2013 at 08:54AM

“Three friends and I ate dinner at Brick earlier this month. We were disappointed. The servers were nice, but the food was bland and overpriced.”

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64. Anonymous said... on Nov 28, 2013 at 09:06PM

“It's quite unfortunate that after much research and debate me and my family chose to dine at this restaurant this Thanksgiving. Actually it was my decision, as I was hosting family from out of town and had reviewed their online Thanksgiving menu and thought it sounded appetizing and like a great deal. Unfortunately, it was nothing like it was advertised. For those reading this... don't waste your time or your money!!

The online Thanksgiving menu offered four courses - a salad, a soup, and entree with family style sides and dessert for $35 per person (see the very detailed and descriptive menu posted directly website attached). The sides were not family style, it ended up being a 3 course meal not a 4 course meal, and we weren't offered half of anything that was posted on the menu. The food lacked taste and the service... was even less tasteful. The manager was condescending and the restaurant seemed to be more concerned with making money than caring for their customers!”


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