Walking into Brika the first thing you notice – after the crowded tables – are coloured wooden louvres attached to the walls, polished concrete floors, exposed rafters and whitewashed walls….looking for all the world like a Greek taverna – missing only a view of the ocean outside – instead is a view across a park. (Outside also there is a shaded area set aside for al fresco eating.) And Greek it certainly is – from the menu, to the wine.
I was meeting Lady FWO at Brika, located on the corner of Stirling and Parry Streets, at the extremity of Northbridge. She was already seated when I arrived, with a glass of wine and bottle of water to hand. I sat and waited for someone to take my drink order but to no avail. After 5 or 6 minutes, I went to the bar and ordered for myself. Now, I must say after that initial irritation the service was fine – attentive staff, prompt service – just that glitch when I came in. But that was soon forgotten when we got down to ordering and eating.
The menu is not large but has a nice cross section of Greek dishes; it is geared towards sharing and this is what we did, ordering a plate of Manitaria Yemista – mushrooms with red peppers; char grilled Fremantle sardines; swordfish skewers; and a beetroot salad, together with some warmed pita bread.
The beetroot salad was a nice mix of golden and red beets, served with haloumi, pomegranate seeds and mint scattered across the dish. The sweet earthy flavours from the beets contrasted with the sharpness of the pomegranate, topped with small cubes of fried haloumi, which had a wonderful melting texture inside. It was a very satisfying dish.
Grilled mushrooms and red peppers came with fetta and fennel seeds liberally mingling with the vegetables. The mushrooms were slippery and beautifully moist with a characteristic meaty flavour; the peppers sweet and tender; all complemented by the salty tones introduced by the fetta, and the aniseed notes from the crunchy fennel seeds.
The char grilled swordfish was served on metal skewers interspersed with peppers and onions and with a bed of hummus. The fish was tender and moist with a nice smoky flavour from the grilling process and the hummus had a very garlicky buzz, perfect for mopping up with the pita. It was a simple but delicious dish.
The whole sardines, charred and served with lemon, garlic and oil, were delightful. The flesh fell from the bones, and had a wonderful ocean fresh zing. You could well have been sitting on a beach somewhere cooking over an open fire. It was an evocative dish.
Well, we had eaten a lot, but felt we really had to try one of the desserts, purely in the cause of research of course. So we settled on Loukoumades, which were described as Greek doughnuts. These came as 6 golf ball sized rounds of deep fried dough, served with drizzled honey and walnuts. They were a touch too heavy for my taste, but the honey certainly gave them a lift. Six was too many for us, but we got through half and at least we know what they are for future reference.
The wine list is quite small, but has a mix of Greek wines and beers, as well as a number of ouzos. We tried a bottle of rosé style made from agiorgitiko, the most widely grown red wine grape in Greece. This one was from the Peloponnese region. It had some nice berry characteristics on the nose, and plum and spice on the palate and finished very dry. One thing to note – Brika doesn’t use wine glasses but serves wine in small Duralux Provence style tumblers – “as they do in the islands” we were assured. A bit different, but when in Greece…..
Apart from the misstep of service when I arrived, we enjoyed our visit immensely. The food is delightful and the Greek wines and beers a little outside the mainstream, and that is to be welcomed. We loved the decor and the buzz from the lunchtime crowd demonstrated the popularity of the place. It is bustling, full of enthusiasm, and serves simple, delicious and authentic Greek fare. We recommend it.