To the bank

Co-owner and chef Steve Budua prepares calamari at Bricks.

Co-owner and chef Steve Budua prepares calamari at Bricks.


Bricks Restaurant and Wine Bar is open for dinner Tues. through Sat., 5 p.m. to 9 p.m., and for lunch Wed. through Fri., starting at 11:30 a.m.

It sounded great in theory: Take a visiting friend out to a wine bar for fine service, superior libations and first-rate dining. Thus did we find ourselves, on a relatively slow weeknight, at Bricks Restaurant and Wine Bar, located just north of the corner of Plumb and Virginia—across from a Bank of America. The symbolism of the nearby bank wasn’t lost on us when we paid the bill and assessed the overall value of our experience.

A friendly hostess ushered us into the large dining area. The décor is classy—elegant white tablecloths, simple but pretty art and furnishings, and a service staff dressed like royalty. We were tenderly greeted by our server in his immaculate vest and white dress shirt—apparently just off the set while serving as a stunt double for Johnny Depp in Public Enemies. Bread and a flawless disquisition of wine options were swiftly and politely provided by our Dillinger doppelganger.

My husband was delighted by his Napa Sauvignon Blanc, while our friend Dave and I crassly ordered gin and tonics for our pre-dining libation. Our drinks, including wine by the glass, ranged between $8 and $12. They were fine, if a little watery for $10. While Dave and my husband resumed their annual bickering about global warming and Sept. 11 conspiracy theories, we ordered the special Hudson Bay mussels appetizer, which came with a delicious Thai-style coconut broth. It was a guilty pleasure to take the fresh bread and soak up the broth that accompanied each succulently prepared mussel. This was by far the best dish of the evening.

Somewhere between the atmospheric concentration of CO2 and the Enron documents lost in the Twin Towers our entrées arrived. My husband’s diver scallops risotto—wild mushroom-crusted scallops served over mascarpone cheese risotto ($27)—was made with a well-textured and flavored cheese sauce to go with the reasonably well seared, if not particularly fresh, scallops. But of all things to get wrong the risotto—the risotto—wasn’t completely done. It was like a football team engineering a solid touchdown-scoring drive and then missing the extra point.

My own fettuccine pescatore, Maine lobster, shrimp and scallops tossed with fettuccine in a light parmesan cream sauce ($26), simply must have been errantly constructed because although the seafood was properly cooked, the dish was overpoweringly salty. It might have been just an excess of parmesan—it clung to my fork in chunks even as I pulled it from my mouth—but it seemed like something in addition was going wrong there. I ate a quarter of it and sent it on its way.

On a positive note, Dave’s Chilean sea bass, baked with crushed macadamia nuts and served with brown rice and fresh vegetables ($28), was terrific. The fish was done perfectly and nothing was too salty.

Maybe you just need to order the right thing, but at $20-$30 per entrée, should the customer’s satisfaction be left to the whims of chance? The final bill was a whopper. At the end of the day, I frankly thought we took a bath.

So go to Bricks to enjoy great wine and service, and maybe even an appetizer. But think twice before committing to dinner. It might make you a lot happier when you cross the street to check your account balance at B of A.