With just eight locations across the South, BrickTop’s can hardly challenge McCormick & Schmick’s award-winning happy hour offered in more than 80 locations around the country. But in the markets where the Nashville-based chain has established a foothold, customers are raving and sharing those rave reviews on Yelp, TripAdvisor and social media sites. The high quality appetizers paired with daily drink specials have folks talking about BrickTop’s happy hour in Atlanta, Charlotte, St. Louis, Tennessee (2 locations) and Florida (3 locations).
The upscale casual concept was launched in 2005 by Joseph Ledbetter and Tom Brunnberg. In the 1970s, Ledbetter co-founded the upscale Houston’s restaurant chain still operating more than a dozen locations under the umbrella of California-based Hillstone Restaurant Group. Hillstone operates a number of upscale eateries around the country, with special focus on prominent locations.
The selection of well-heeled neighborhoods is something BrickTop’s shares with its predecessor. In fact, the Nashville BrickTop’s is built on the same corner in the city’s trendy West End that was the location of the very first Houston’s back in 1977. In Charlotte, BrickTop’s occupies a spot in the upscale SouthPark Mall development. The Palm Springs store, considered the chain’s jewel by Joe Ledbetter, is located just off legendary Worth Avenue.
Many diners have commented on the similarity of items on the BrickTop’s menu to specialties at Houston’s and Hillside, with grilled artichokes, crab cakes, ahi tuna, among others, making appearances on all. The difference is in the prices with similar items priced several dollars less at BrickTop’s. The atmosphere is more casual at BrickTop’s as well, with diners even encouraged to wear “boating attire” (on Worth Avenue! Gasp!) at the Palm Beach location.
While Happy Hour deals and menus vary by season and location, BrickTop’s typically offers a list of discounted appetizers from 4 to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday. Drink specials are offered on Monday through Thursday, with a recent visit to the Charlotte, NC location revealing $4 draft beer on Mondays, $6 house wine on Wednesdays, and $6 martinis on Tuesdays and Thursdays. North Carolina law requires these drink specials to be offered all day, but this is not necessarily true at other locations.
Happy Hour appetizers available on our visit included one of BrickTop’s signature dishes, Deviled Eggs topped with sugar bacon. A generous half-dozen were included in the $6 price. Other apps included the house’s Guacamole and a Spinach-Artichoke dip, both $7. Flatbreads are half-price during happy hour; we sampled a thin-crusted vegetarian pie topped with goat cheese, artichokes, roasted red peppers, red onions and spinach for $7.50.
The Happy Hour menu also included a selection of sushi rolls priced at $6 each. Varieties included a spicy tuna, spiced salmon, and a classic California roll. Sushi isn’t offered on BrickTop’s main menu, but is often found on the special board.
The martinis were a huge value at $6 each during our visit. The selection featured classic martinis and Cosmos, plus California tinged variations with fruit juice added, including a lemon drop martini made with lemonade and a blood orange cosmo. Our group consensus focused on the Chambord and pineapple juice-laced French martini as the most inspired of the lot.
Upon our arrival in the bar of the Charlotte location, we were not immediately offered the happy hour menu or informed of drink specials. So, be sure to inquire. Calling ahead to confirm hours is always a good happy hour idea.