Sports bar or not, Brickside’s got game
By Tom Sietsema
Wednesday, March 6, 2013
One of the four owners behind Brickside in Bethesda wants to make something crystal clear: Although his new watering hole and restaurant includes a 12-foot HD projector and roars as loud as a racetrack, it’s “a bar that has sports” rather than a sports bar, says Brian Vasile.
On non-game nights, offers the restaurateur, who also owns Grand Central in Adams Morgan, the space has screened a range of films that include “The Matrix” and “The Wizard of Oz.” Throwing a party? The industrial design features six garage doors that roll up and down to create zones of semi-privacy.
Brickside’s soaring brick wall, meanwhile, is the owners’ playful attempt to make you believe you’re eating and drinking in a former speak-easy. “Vote Against Prohibition” reads a faint white message. Martinis and boozy punches call from the cocktail list.
Pitching in on the food front is Andrea Pace, chef-owner of Villa Mozart in Fairfax, who has whipped up a menu heavy on “bar bites” -- wings, spinach dip, calamari -- but with more flair than at most sports bars. I mean, bars with sports.
Roasted cauliflower with tahini sauce, gang? Anyone up for phyllo-wrapped shrimp? Chicken “pops” bring together three fried drumsticks glazed with barbecue sauce and accompanied by yogurt-cucumber sauce. The snack is hot, cool and tidy, thanks to bones carved clean in the kitchen. Pizzas won’t have food fans running back, but the pastas might. Three cheers for the orecchiette tossed with broccolini, pork sausage and tomato sauce revved up with crushed red pepper flakes. (The entree hails from the lunch menu at Villa Mozart.)
The check is dropped off in a Mason jar with a Tootsie Roll inside. Score!
From punches served in Mason jars to a large “Vote Against Prohibition” sign painted onto a bare brick wall, Bethesda’s new Brickside Food and Drink is hitting all the faux-Prohibition notes. But as long as the drinks are good, I’ll play along.
Brickside soft-opened last Thursday (its grand opening will be February 15) and while it’s not quite firing on all cylinders yet, it’s worth stopping in for happy hour. Besides, where else in Bethesda will you find such classic cocktails as the 12 Mile Limit and the Mary Pickford?
The bar’s menu is as minimal as the decor: You’ll only find three cocktails and four punches on the list. But they’re done well. The Gunpowder Punch, a blend of rye whiskey, tea and lemon, is a smooth, herbal cocktail with a hint of spice to it. (It’s garnished with a half-turn of white pepper from a grinder.) The Pimm’s Punch is a sweet teaser for summer: a pale pink concoction with strawberries, oranges and mint.
Happy hour runs from 4 to 7 p.m. and includes $4 drafts (some, like Flying Dog and Guinness are $5), $4 rail drinks and house wine, $10 buckets of bottled beer and discounted appetizers. There are also daily specials. On Monday, all martinis are $7 until last call.
-- Fritz Hahn (Feb. 7, 2013)