A midwinter sunset is approaching and Testa Rossa says “I want a big Caesar salad for dinner, do we have the stuff to make one?”
“Nope, but we can go to the Brickhouse and have a great one.” I reply.
“Oooh, I like the way you think. Let’s go!”
Not looking for a full dinner service we drive over and beeline for the bar in the back. We’re blown away by the near full-house on a Tuesday night. Every table but one is full, and the bar is packed shoulder-to-shoulder. Thankfully the have a long “bar buddy table” between the bar and the last few two-person tables towards the back with several stools open. We grab our spot at the end of the table, and are warmly greeted by the staff.
I will admit to being a regular diner at the Brickhouse’s original Redmond location. Why? In an industry that sees likely the highest employee turnover in the USA, the serving staff at the Redmond Brickhouse has remained solid. Servers LJ & Leslie, and Bartender Brian have been there as long as I can remember (which is about eight years of eating here. Anyone remember the wooden menus?) They are true professionals and really make a visit to the Brickhouse something special. Even though we’re here for just a cocktail and a salad, they care for us the same as they would any other patron.
We order a couple of Brickhouse Manhattan cocktails, and I arm-twist Testa Rossa into an order of clams as a starter. She reminds me of our diet, so I request no bread on the side, which is a true hardship becasue the bread at the Brickhouse is sublime!
The cocktails are perfect expression of what a Manhattan should be: savory and tart, rather than sickly sweet. Perfect balance of flavors, and beautifully presented in a martini glass.
If you like steamer clams, then get yourself to the Brickhouse as quick as you can. I love them, having eaten them since I was a little kid. Having spent a large portion of my life in the Puget Sound region (“…Surrounded by Acres of Clams!”) I know good clams when I find them. These are DAMN good clams!
Small, tasty, and swimming in a wonderful white wine, garlic, and clam juice broth… we devour the clams swiftly, with half of them being gone before I can remember to snap a photo of them for you. They really should serve the clams with a spoon to allow you to slurp up all the clam broth, because that is the best part. Oh wait, that is what the bread is for… oh well. We make do with clam shells, and clean the bowl.
Despite her initial hankering, Testa Rossa orders a “Local Organic Greens” salad, while I stick to the initial mission profile and land a Caesar. Ever thoughtful our server LJ asks if I’d like some chicken with the salad, which I thankfully accept. Our salads arrive just as we’ve put down the clam bowl for good. My Caesar is heavenly. Leafy and green, with just the right amount of dressing, with that slight essence of anchovies that makes it real… makes it tangy. The chicken is a perfect accompaniment.
We had to pass on their amazing dessert menu this time (try the cobbler!) but we will be back and I’ll prepare a full review. Their steaks and seafood are amazing, as is their wine cellar. If you are a wine nut like I am, you have to visit if only to see the wine cellar. Behind the bar it is a work of art, both of carpentry and of the vintners craft.
The Brickhouse locations:
412 SW 6th Street, Redmond, OR
5 NW Minnesota Ave, Bend, OR