It doesn’t seem too long ago when I had my first visit to Brickhouse at the height of their madness when, in the absence of a liquor license, they piled drinks after drinks onto their delighted patrons, yours truly included. Everything took on a rosy, margarita-hazed glow then. Friends couldn’t sing enough praises of Brickhouse, and between you and me, that’s like striking a consolation prize in the local mark-six.
Fast forward a few months later, I returned late at night for a spot of supper with some Singapore visitors. To my dismay: (1) they no longer serve free drinks (yes yes I know that couldn’t last forever); and (2) their kitchen has closed and most of the menu is no longer available. One miserable round of drinks later, we back out on the street and I seriously wondered if my first experience at Brickhouse was a dream.
So when I was invited to return and sample of the latest creations on Chef Austin’s menu, I jumped at the chance.
Rowdy as ever, the crowd at Brickhouse was loud, joyful and hungry. The music was blaring loudly and conversations were more than a bit strained, but hey if you are looking for a quiet place to chill, Brickhouse ain’t the place. It is one of those place where strangers become friends, personal space cease to exist, and you leave your burdens of the day at the door. You couldn’t have asked for a more mixed crowd – the trendy artists mixed comfortably with drunken suits against a background of deafening chatter and an efficient crew of so-cool-it-hurts staff.
Clear winner of the night was – surprise, surprise – not the main, but one of its ceviches. The Agua Chili was a delightful, vibrant mix of shrimp, cucumber water, pickled red onions, and cilantro and chili oil. The differing ingredients promise a ceviches that is packed with texture and flavour, and aqua Chili did not disappoint. Digging up everything with a piece of chips is the recommended way of savouring it.
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I overheard about Heirloom quite sometime back, but more of a breakfast cum brunch kinda a place. So when it popped up in an SCMP’s article about Mexican joints in the city, I was pleasantly surprised. Since then I have tore out in the entire article and pinned it to my wall, as reminder to myself to check out these places out one day.
Obviously, the day came way sooner than I thought. It was late Saturday afternoon and I needed a place for lunch at Sheung Wan. I thought, why not?
So I walked my way in the hot, humid weather to Heirloom and wasn’t entirely pleased to find the place was packed and the upstairs seatings were not open. Had no choice but to wait under the sweltering heat (urgh!) but lucky for me, some twenty minutes a large table was made vacant, so I plonked myself onto the generous seat, ordered a beer and settled in with a book while waiting for my lunch companion to turn up.
While waiting (it was a rather long wait, ehem), I couldn’t help but notice the little details that went into the design of Heirloom. Decked in black, beige and other decidedly neutral colours, Heirloom projects a very understated setting but in a very classy way. The chandelier on the ceiling was a clue, so is the beautiful, beautiful toilet. You have to check it out.
And so it was time for food! We decided to order quite a few small-portioned dishes to try.
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I thought I had it down pat with Mexican food after the last culinary foray into the sleepy town of Sai Ying Pun. Being able to articulate the differences between a taco and a burrito (it’s not difficult), I thought I was it.
Then come along Brickhouse and everything I know was thrown out of the window.
I could reminisce about the adventure of finding the joint; mischievously tucked in a back lane guarded by a built-in-bouncer of a Chinese uncle selling cheap purses, right in the heart of the heaving mess that was Lan Kwai Fong. Google Map was of no use to pinpoint its exact location; hint – it is located where the famous Fa Zu Jie is.
Salsa & Chips.
I could gush enthusiastically about the infectious vibe of the jolly hearted patrons and the truly hospitable wait staff, who made our almost two-hour wait for a table decidedly a social event on its own. We sang, we laughed and we had a few drinks (it’s Mraz, geddit?).
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