On a Sunday recently passed, Ollie and I found ourselves with the dilemma of choosing a lunch venue to occupy our time before the final Glory game of the year. With a short walk to NIB stadium taking us through Northbridge, we weren’t exactly short of options and after tossing a few ideas back and forth we eventually settled on a small Greek meze bar, Brika, located on Stirling Street across from the infamous Weld Square Park. Brika in Greek means found, and Ollie and I had found this little gem on Stirling Street a little while ago when we were considering buying an apartment off-the-plan from Psaros. Our smooth-talking sales agent had offered us a drink there while we waited to talk specs with him at their office across the road, and while we didn’t go ahead with the apartment, our brief encounter with the menu instilled the desire in me to go back – it’s a strong person who can not be tempted by the likes of spanakopita and loukoumades!
On this warm day Brika feels open and airy, courtesy of the shutters pulled open wide to frame the long windows running along to the length of the restaurant. Rustic looking lanterns, a wall of shabby chic shutters in varied hues and a striking graffiti feature on the back wall add to the atmosphere of the space. The tables were fairly close together and I could see it getting a bit squishy when it gets busy, but I could also imagine it would give a great energy to the place and the staff seemed the type to handle a busy situation with great poise. Having the run of the place, we decided to savour the beautiful day by sitting along the window, the perfect place to enjoy a bit of people watching.
We ordered a few different things all at once, and the waitress offered the options of having them come out in entree/main style or just as they were ready. As they were ready seemed to fit in with the vibe of the afternoon, and before we knew it we had the beetroot salad with pomegranate, haloumi and mint set down before us, then the spanakopita with spinach, leek and 3 cheeses ($12) and pipries gemistes – peppers stuffed with spicy feta ($14). And some Greek beers of course!
The spanakopita is the highlight of this round – it was an interest take on a classic Greek dish. With an exterior reminiscent of a deep fried spring roll, the pastry is crisp and crunchy and upon taking a bite all that warm cheese came flowing out – this is the stuff that Greek dreams are made of. The feta stuffed peppers weren’t too shabby either, I liked the combination of the creamy feta and the tangy pepper casing. I would have liked to see a little bit more stuffing (it’s the cheese fiend in me!) – splitting these in two was a little bit awkward, as there wasn’t as much spiced feta at the bottom and poor Ollie ended up with the short straw. Luckily for me, he was happy to save tummy space for what was to come whilst I forged ahead, filling my tummy with reckless abandon. The beetroot salad was a nice accompaniment to these two rich dishes, the tanginess of the pomegranate complemented the earthy beetroot flavours for a bit of freshness and the salty haloumi hit topped it all off nicely.
I’m on a bit of a seafood journey at the moment – having never really had the tastebuds for it, I am slowly coming around to opening up my palate to these new flavours. Emphasis must be on the word slowly though, as although it was a beautiful dish the pan fried barramundi with skordalia ($21) presented a little bit too much of a challenge for me. After a couple of bites in I had to throw in the towel, leaving Ollie to finish the rest with a big smile on his face. I have to say though, the fish was wonderfully flaky, flesh falling apart on the fork only to be mopped up along with the creamy, garlicky skordalia.
The slow cooked lamb with house marinade ($26) more than made up for the disappointment of not finishing my part of the fish. A very generous serve for two people, the meat was juicy and slid off the bone as I picked it up with the tongs. After so much food already I looked at all the meat with a small amount of trepidation, as after one taste I knew it was going to be one of those meals that you finish no matter what – and sure enough, that was exactly what happened. Morsel by morsel, and long after Ollie had pulled up stumps, I finished off the plate and wondered whether I should be proud or slightly ashamed of myself.
Putting aside everything I just said about being impossibly full, some food recon on the plates coming out of the kitchen during our lunch had confirmed that there was no way I was leaving Brika without trying the loukoumades – Greek donuts with honey and walnuts ($10). It was an excellent choice – soft and fluffy, and retaining their crunch despite the syrup they’ve been soaked in, these are a treat to behold despite the ballooning state of our stomachs. Very, very sweet, as many Greek desserts are, this is definitely one for the sweet tooth in you.
Brika – where the pace is leisurely, the plates communal and the conversation spirited – gave us exactly what we wanted on this leisurely, sunny autumn day. We rolled on out, grateful for the short walk to NIB stadium that gave us a chance to stretch our legs and settle our stretched tummies before the excitement of the soccer.