With two owners infatuated with Central Texas ‘cue and as far as they know the first in Sarasota to offer it, you must know that Bricks Smoked Meats, a new eatery at 1528 State Street in Sarasota, is serving up some full belly satisfied patrons in an authentic rustic but chic ambience. Mark Gabrick, co-owner and visionary of this already jumpin’ spot that opened May 16,th says his main job is to watch the oak burning fire in “Big Red,” his pride and joy and the first all wood burning smoker “Oyler” in Florida made by J&R Manufacturing. The massive red rotisserie smoker holds 1,800 pounds of meat and using oak wood, smokes up the briskets, beans, bacon, ribs, turkey and more for up to 18 hours.
“I’m kinda like the boyscout that builds the fire,” Mark joked, “I have bbq sauce running through my veins…sweet with a touch of heat.”
Mark says Bricks has been on his ‘goal board’ for ten years. He worked in the restaurant and hotel industry. Was an art director for Ogilvy and Mather where he wrote T.V. commercials and did voice overs. And always served smoked meat to his family and friends. He was once in Poland on an ad job and shipped over a smoker so his creative staff could enjoy his smoked meats. Upon moving to Tampa, he started a food truck with his smoked concoctions, then moved to Sarasota to offer it at the Farmer’s Market. When Mark met the other owner Dick Rivera, Bricks was developed with a couple years of research and hard work to fan the flame of success.
“It was one of those connect the dots things that Steve Jobs talked about in his commencement speech,” Mark said. The first dot was hotels and restaurants. Then advertising. Always smoked bbq. Now Bricks connects the dots. “Smart people take their advertising knowledge in creating brands for others, and create their own brand… I never realized back then that I could get paid for my smoked meats.”
His partner Dick Rivera is a long-run restaurateur with roots in Steak & Ale, Applebees, TGI Fridays and other restaurants. “I thought I was ready to retire…then I met Mark,” Dick said. “He’s been great to work with.”
The concept is unique. They’re creating a “barbecue culture” they said.
“Barbecue is a sensory memory experience,” Mark said. “We want families and patrons to create memories here, just as people do in their backyards in Texas.”
The backyard motife is probably best picked up with the string lights strung above the long, community tables that encourage folks that may be strangers to one another to sit together. I was impressed with the ambience. It’s Sarasota chic blended with Texas rustic. A lot of thought went into the design featuring authentic brick, reclaimed barn wood, industrial touches, a Texas star and longhorns, and the fans made from an Oklahoma farm’s metal windmills. My favorite touch – cowhide wrapped chair backs – moocho clever.
The casual order/pay/eat may not appeal to those wishing to be served from beginning to end, but its advantage is that you won’t have to wait for your check or a drink, since the bar is first up inside the door. You order your drink, get a menu and your drink, and meander down the corridor to order your food and pay. Then you’re set to relax as servers handle the rest and, Mark says, you’re encouraged to linger.
We were treated to just about everything on the menu at our media dinner and I will tell you the brisket actually required no chewing…it literally melts in your mouth. My favorite meats were the smoked turkey and pulled pork, and the ribs had just enough spice and glaze. Otherwise, meat is only seasoned with salt and pepper, but you’d swear they must use a secret spice. Other meats on the menu are smoked sausage and bbq chicken and shrimp are available in the tacos (seven different kinds). Meat sandwiches and a side start at $9 and wrap up at $19 for three meats and a side.
For starters, ranging from $4 to $10 – the guacamole and chips are excellent as are bacon burnt ends and fried pickles and peppers. For sides, they feature an amazing State street corn dish, my personal favorite, along with the expected potato salad, baked beans (also smoked) with onion crunches on top, slaw, a hearty mac ‘n cheese, and delicious mini corn muffins.
Booze includes a full bar with lots of whiskey of course, frozen margaritas on tap, tequila specials and they use all natural cold-pressed juices and 100% agave. An ample selection of domestic, draft, imported, local and craft beers and wine are also featured and the most unusual cocktail – if you don’t wanna get bombed at lunchtime – is a “little guy margarita” served on the rocks or frozen for $2.99.
If you can manage, or have a sweet tooth no matter how much you’ve eaten, try the dessert cups of pudding concoctions that include flavors of banana cream, mojito (like key lime) and s’mores complete with an actual toasted marshmello.
Go on down and create some backyard barbecue memories. Experience the authentic Texas bbq culture. Brick’s Smoked Meats is open Sunday through Thursday 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. and Friday and Saturday until midnight. They also cater and offer take-out. Call 941-993-1435 or visit www.brickssmokedmeats.com for more information.
Photos by Patti Pearson and Facebook