Wine Dine and Play: Brick And Mortar

Brick And Mortar

Artistry On The Plate
St. Petersburg, Florida USA
Cuisine Style: New American
Average Price: $$$$
Overall Rating: 5/5
Dined in: February 2016
By Sean Overpeck (CFE)
**A full article and index glossary of restaurants, wines, recipes and travel for 
Wine Dine and Play are in the pages section above, or by following these links:

Brick and Mortar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato 

Executive Chefs:
Hope Montgomery and Jason Ruhe

Local ingredients, farm to table, homemade kinds of pasta and an extra special touch of upscale culinary delights, with a lower scale price tag in St. Petersburg, hits another home run. It is a shame that our local Tampa Ray’s baseball team really doesn’t. I have mentioned over and over again how these two cities are on the up and up challenging the cities loved by big media as the American food capitols like New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Charleston, Atlanta, San Francisco, and San Antonio. So all that being said, yes those cities have some wonderful restaurants, but they don’t have a Brick and Mortar like St. Pete does, and as my home, I’m proud to say that my wife and I have this and many other fine restaurants to choose from. With being little more than a year old now, let's take a look at the Brick and Mortar restaurant and how it rivals the big boys up north.

They have been written up in Travel and Leisure twice and the most recent article is on the 10 best restaurants outside Miami. It all began over ten years before with a catering company based out of Tampa called In Bloom Catering. Today it is a hard structure or a Brick and Mortar, where In Bloom Catering can still operate out of serving Hillsborough and Pinellas County, but run a restaurant at the same time. The biggest difference in having a restaurant Jason and Hope say, “Is to be able to create exactly what they desire and want, rather than what their clients in catering want.” 

How to explain the concept of Brick in Mortar is that it is upscale but not expensive, the menu is a combination of rustic American food that is contemporary but not typical to all other American menus, with integrations of Indonesian and Spanish flares in memory and appreciation to Ruhe's paternal grandmother being from Indonesia and his mother's side of the family is from Spain. They pride themselves on serving dishes composed of ingredients from local farms using as many organic vegetables as possible. They cure their own salmon versus having it preprepared by a major food company, their pasta is homemade, and they pickle most of the vegetables to give them long shelf life so that there is little to no waste. Speaking of the menu, here is how they break it all down:

    • Small Plates
    • Brick and Mortar Boards
    • Greens
    • Mains
    • Desserts

They began by renting out the kitchen and the private dining area formerly occupied by the St. Pete Brasserie while continuing to work on there catering. The dining room with bar and cocktail area holds around 50 people with a small covered patio and a capacity of around 15. There is a very rustic yet eccentric charm to the decor with unfinished wooden tables lit up by several light fixtures hanging from the grey and purplish painted ceiling giving you plenty of light when the sun goes down, and much more natural sunlight during the day with the floor-to-ceiling windows. 
The bar at Brick and Mortar

On the opposite side of the dining room is their bar, where the walls when not covered with an untreated wood that you would find in many mountain lodges, they have palettes hanging above with shelves built below to hold the alcohol and a few cook books that the customers are welcomed to read. Besides the usual items in most restaurant bars, they have a unique wine list with a combination of new and old world selections as well as local craft beers such as Green Bench which has over twenty beers available at their brew house. Cycle Brewing, Cigar City based out of Tampa and the St. Pete Brewing Company round up the local list.

Brick and mortar in its simplest usage are described as the physical presence of a building. In Afghanistan when I was at Bagram working at the dining facilities to which there were many on the large base, some inside tents and other that were called brick and mortar. They would always, later on, be given a name like where I worked at Dragon, or others like Yelner, and Koele to name a few. The Brick and Mortar Restaurant in St. Petersburg, Florida is located down Central Avenue, and from the walking, I have done up and down that street, I can tell you that it is an area with lots of hustle and bustle with shops, restaurants, and other businesses. My wife discovered Brick and Mortar while having lunch as she worked near by, and was so excited about her experience, that she added them to our calendar of restaurants to eat at.   

When we went, my wife invited two long time friends who also lived in St. Pete, and I had met them once before when we first moved to the city in the summer of 2015. We had a table near the door against the window, and even though it was night time, there was the perfect amount of lighting to see everything.

We all began with some wine, with my wife enjoying one of her favorite varietals rosé, from the Clos Clémentine Winery in the Côtes de Provence, containing a blend of 30% Grenache, 30% Cinsault, 30% Tibouren, and 10% Syrah. An Appellation d'origine contrôlée, the winemakers' notes express a clarity, good color and vibrant aromas of berry and coffee, with a little cedar. It dances along the palate while bringing freshness to the mind. Our friends had a Barbera from Terra D’Oro Winery near the California-Nevada foothills, and a chardonnay from the Taken Wine Company based in Napa called Complicated.  The Terra D’Oro winemakers list that the wine is fermented in stainless steel for a full two weeks, extracting maximum color and flavor. Showcases the refreshing acidity of the grape with inviting aromas of sweet red fruit and freshly toasted bread, and enticing flavors of cherry cola and blueberries coat the palate, and polished tannins boast an elegant, round finish. The ‘Complicated’ Chardonnay has a vibrant pineapple and stone fruit that jumps out of the glass. Fresh Meyer lemon zest shines through with just a subtle hint of French oak to soften and round out the wine. Opulent flavors of peach and guava dominate this classic Sonoma Chardonnay. Hints of Meyer lemon and apricot flavors, coupled with well-integrated French oak making for a well-rounded Chardonnay with great balance.

I enjoyed a Bordeaux style blend from the Lock and Key Vineyard in the North Coast, which is a meritage blend of 57% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Merlot, and 3% Cabernet Franc. Later in the evening, they switched over to a BGWA Barossa cabernet from Southern Australia called Yalumba. According to the winemakers' notes, it has enticing berry fruit, dewy eucalyptus, briar and spicy oak aromas are the perfect openings. The palate builds slowly with black fruits and spice; rich and full, mouth coating cocoa tannins and blackcurrants. The wine has lovely length; the structure is restrained and seamless.

We started with three appetizers under the small plates and brick and mortar boards sections. The first item was the B&M veal meatballs with creamy parmesan polenta, whole, and chiffonade basil. Other items on the small plates list ranged from beef tenderloin carpaccio, caramelized onion and cheese tarts, farmhouse flatbreads, and Ahi tuna tartare to name a few.
B&M veal meatballs

The next starter item also comes from the small plates and are hand cut truffle parmesan fries, which have been around awhile but are always enjoyable to me. Finally, the last starter we all enjoyed was the pâté board, with house pickled seasonal organic vegetables from local farms, and toasted crostini. The pâté was not the traditional goose liver, but a chicken, which tasted just as good as the goose. Other items on the boards are a house made cured salmon with juniper and dill, and another pâté board with pork and chicken liver.

Pâté board

In between when the starters were finished and before the entrees, and under the greens menu we ordered a farm salad with beets, with goat cheese and heirloom tomatoes. Other green selection included chilled poached shrimp with shaved fennel and avocado and a grilled romaine salad.

Wine, Dine, and Play
The farm salad

For entrees our friend Doug had the B&M Burger made with ground chuck, bacon onion jam, aged white cheddar, arugula rocket lettuce, and more house cut french fries. Two sauces of mayo for the burger and ketchup for the fries were served on the side, and the burger bun was a house made brioche. 

B&M Burger

My wife enjoyed the citrus and herb brined airline chicken, served with thyme roasted mashed fingerling potatoes and sweet caramelized young carrots. The caramelization turned the carrots to a darker brown with a wonderful sauce that made every portion of the dish amazing. One thing about when my wife and I dine out, whether we are alone or with friends and family, we always share eaach others food. 

Herb brined airline chicken

Doug’s wife had the seared espresso rubbed slow braised beef short rib served over a parmesan polenta cake and roasted brussel sprout leaves, and topped with some of the natural braising liquid. Finally, for my entree, I enjoyed an item that prior to this meal, only had in a soup, and that was the slowly braised oxtail stuffed inside a house made ravioli. The ox tail was slowly braised and pulled apart, stuffed into the ravioli with a soft poached egg and a saffron goat cheese mousse, topped with micro greens garnish. The dish literally melted in my mouth and was by far for me the highlight of the night. All the food was wonderful, but this scores the best marks. 


Accolades and training: 
Brick and Mortar has been open for a little over a year now, and with being a small venue, they are filling large shoes by taking fantastic and classic new American cuisine to even greater levels. In May 2016, they received the first write up on Travel and Leisure when they released the top five cities to visit this summer, and St. Petersburg / Clearwater was on that list. They also mentioned a few notable restaurants to visit in each city, and Brick and Mortar were on that list. 

Other accolades:
IlovetheBurg - More than a wine bar

The evening had been outstanding, and we didn’t want it to end. I had a cup of coffee, roasted locally from the Kahwa Coffee and Espresso Company in St. Petersburg, and we all decided to share the glazed donut bread pudding, topped with toasted coconut and a Spanish tres leches sauce. It was divine and to die for. Though our server recommended a different dessert, I’m glad we chose this one. The recommended dessert is also on the lists of all the writers from the accolades listed above, and that was the lavender panna cotta which I will try next time. They also had a house chocolate cake on the menu.

Glazed donut bread pudding

Please see these guidelines for Tipping in Restaurants and on following proper etiquette, customs, cultures, and avoiding assumptions when you dine out.

Other Noteworthy New American Cuisine Articles & Restaurants:
Alinea Highly creative new American molecular gastronomy tasting menus in Chicago, Illinois 
Bridge Street Bistro Third Floor terrace Seafood Centric New American dining, Bradenton Beach, Florida 
Cat Cora's Kitchen Organic New American Tapas Restaurant in Atlanta Airport Terminal A
Chill Restaurant & Bar New American Cuisine, tapas, and exotic cocktails in St. Pete Beach
Ciro's Speakeasy & Supper Club Prohibition-themed New American cuisine in Tampa, Florida
Harvest Moon Café Farm-to-Fork Daily changing new American fare menu in Sonoma, California
Jekyll Island Seafood Company, New American Seafood Restaurant, Atlanta Airport, Atlanta, Georgia
Lobby at Twelve Boutique hotel bistro, new American, and Southern favorites at Atlantic Station, Atlanta 
Moshulu New American dining on a restored ship in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Samantha’s Restaurant Mellow new American fare in North Canton, Ohio 
The Mad Hatter Waterfront upscale new American cuisine on Sanibel Island, Florida 
The Mill Restaurant New American fare with a southern spin in St. Petersburg, Florida
Zinc Bistro and Bar Southwestern-inspired new American fare in San Antonio, Texas

See the whole list by visiting “The Wine Dine and Play Article Glossary

Other St. Petersburg restaurants and articles on Wine Dine and Play:

Colorfully inspired twists on American Classics
St. Petersburg, Florida, USA
Traditional and classic Italian plates
St. Petersburg, Florida, USA
New American, Southern Twist
St. Petersburg, Florida, USA
Innovative Finer Seafood & Raw Bar 
At the Sundial 
St. Petersburg, Florida, USA
Colonial Portuguese Fusion with tapas
St. Petersburg, Florida, USA
Organic Farmers Market in Pioneer Park
St. Petersburg, Florida, USA

A Few Florida Favorites:

Locally Sourced Café for Southern Grub
St. Augustine

Old-world classic Italian & Mediterranean
New Smyrna Beach
Old School Rustic Tuscan
Native American Cuisine w/Barbacoa Grilling
Upscale Pan Asian Fare w/sushi
Sanibel Island
Waterfront upscale new American cuisine

See the whole list by visiting “The Wine Dine and Play Article Glossary by country

Final notes, review basics, observations and more pictures:

Most reviews are subjective, depending on the writer; but they should also be responsible, and respectfully written, upholding the truth, and accurately conveying the experience to the best of the writer's knowledge, even if it includes metaphors the restaurant may not like to read about. My ratings are by the stars I award (from 0 to 5). The rating is calculated on a point accumulation of six separate factors based on individual experience. They include wine and other beverage selections, plate presentation, customer service, restaurant or café ambiance, food quality, and wow factor. To see more details of this rating list, read this article:

Overall from this experience and the score factors outlined in the ‘about page’ section, based on my individual experience and rating, I give Brick and Mortar a 5 out of 5 stars, meaning that they not only exceeded my expectations and were far above the average dining experience of most restaurants, but they surpassed outstanding and very extraordinary.
Scores are detailed in the factor chart below:

Formula Factor Conclusions and Overall Ratings
Max Points Possible:
Total Points Awarded:
Total Points deducted:
Food quality
Plate presentation
Customer service
Alcohol and other beverages
Total regular points awarded
Total percentage Before Bonus


“Wow” factor BONUS
Total bonus percentage


Total percentage with a bonus for the final star rating


Stars Awarded (see chart below)
             0 - 5

**A full break down and explanation of the observations and point disbursement is available in the linked article above. To receive a detailed copy of your score, feel free to contact me at any time and I will provide it to you.**


Overall Star Rating:
5 of 5 Stars: 
104% Rating with a 3 point “wow” bonus
An Extraordinary Dining Experience
Corkage fee’s:
This Restaurant does not list any corkage fee’s however, most American restaurants charge 
$25.00 per bottle
Restaurant style:
Casual dining
Cuisine style:
American, Indonesian, Spanish
Allergen or dietary accommodations: 
Farm to Fork, Gluten Free, Grass Fed, Local, Organic, Pescatarian, Sustainable,   Vegetarian Options
Not Required, But Recommended
Accepted, but not guaranteed
Dress code:
Casual to Conservative attire
It’s Florida, everybody wears flip-flops!
Child policy:

The Restaurants reviewed on this site may have a kids menu or cater to them; however, for full enjoyment of food and wine, it is recommended that kids not to be in attendance, unless they have been trained in proper etiquette. 
If not then:
Hire a Babysitter! 
Place for foodies, Modern, Trendy, Romantic, Hot spot, Great bar, Upscale, and a Neighborhood gem.
Cash, Visa, MasterCard, Discover, American Express
Street meeter parking
The restaurants reviewed on this site may have Wi-Fi, but do not require you to go online, because the excitement of the food and wine alone will keep you too entertained instead of checking your social media and emails.
Noise level:
Nonsmoking restaurant
Patio or terrace:

Food Prices 
(excludes, alcohol, taxes & 20% gratuity’s)

$£€¥ -                Under 50.00 (inexpensive)
$£€¥ x 2 -          51.00- 99.00 (moderate)
$£€¥ x 3 -          Over 100.00 (pricey)
$£€¥ x 4 -          Over 200.00 (expensive)
$£€¥ x 5 -          Over 400.00 (very expensive)

**Currencies reflect the world’s major travelers, restaurant, or wine connoisseur’s**

United States Dollar (USD)
Great Britain Pound Sterling (GBP)
Canadian Dollar (CAN)
Chinese Yuan (CNY)  
European Union (EUR)

 Alcohol prices:

$123.00 USD

Brick And Mortar:

539 Central Ave
Saint Petersburg, Florida

Contact Information: 
Brick and Mortar
Maître d or host:
+1 (727) 822-6540
Email Contact:
Serving hours:
Eastern Standard Time
(GMT, Zulu, or UTC - 5:00)
Wed-Thur: 5:00 pm - 10:00 pm
Fri-Sat:      4:30 pm - 11:00 pm
Sun-Tue:    Closed
Social Media 

The worlds best restaurants is a subjective list of who is writing it and changes on a regular basis. The Wine Dine and Play best experiences are based on my highest rated stared restaurants, meaning that the visit was an outstanding or extraordinary experience. From cafés, chains, mom + pops, hole in the walls, to fine dining including a few Michelin spots. Visit the Top 100 page to see the entire list.

A few to tease you with…

Eclectic and Innovative New Zealand cuisine
Christchurch, New Zealand
A classy southern seafood eatery house
Charleston, South Carolina, USA
Waterfront upscale new American cuisine
Sanibel Island, Florida, USA

Other Pictures:

Brick and Mortar Dining Room
Jason Ruhe
Truffle parmesan fries

Beef short rib

“Culinary perfection consists not in doing extraordinary things, 
But in doing ordinary things extraordinarily well.”

-Angelique Arnauld (1591-1661)

Who is John Galt?


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