Scouting report: Tunisian briks and a Marilyn Monroe tribute at The Briks

Scouting report: Tunisian <i>briks</i> and a Marilyn Monroe tribute at The Briks
The Sinatra brik with shrimp scampi, tomatoes, basil and pink vodka sauce. (Jenn Harris)

Name of restaurant: The Briks

Concept: The menu is a melting pot of North African, Indian, Spanish, Middle Eastern and Mexican flavors, heavily influenced by chef Mario Christerna's time spent working at Martin Berasategui's Michelin-star restaurant Lasarte in Barcelona. Think Tunisian briks (a savory fried filo dough-wrapped pastry with an egg), Spanish cocas (flatbreads) and a daily selection of aguas frescas. 

The tables were all decorated by Christerna, who cut out pictures of characters from his favorite movies and ads. On one table there's Marlon Brando from "The Godfather," on another it's the Garbage Pail Kids. A chef's room in the back has a blown-up picture of Johnny Depp and Amy Locane from the film "Cry Baby" covering one wall and the entire bar top is covered in photos of Marilyn Monroe. And dinner is served with a mix of Destiny's Child, TLC and Mariah Carey on the stereo. 

What dish represents the restaurant, and why? The Guru Brik. A pocket of filo dough is filled with slices of chicken in a yellow curry sauce, potatoes and peas. Christerna adds an egg and another layer of filo before frying the brik until it's golden brown. Then it gets a drizzle of sweet tamarind sauce. When you cut into the brik, the coating crumbles and the egg yolk spills out into a rich yellow pool you can use to dip each bite. Besides being the restaurant's namesake dish, it's the perfect representation of Christerna's attempt at capturing a variety of cultures in one dish.


And if you're thinking a pocket of filo dough would make a good vessel for dessert, it does. Christerna also makes something called Midnight Munchies with a strawberry, banana and Nutella-filled brik served warm with vanilla ice cream.

Runners-up: The batata harra tots or the chicken shawarma coca. The batata harra tots are bite-sized pieces of potato cooked until just tender, then covered in chile flakes, salt and pepper. They're served with a pale orange spicy dipping sauce. And the chicken shawarma coca is a chewy flatbread topped with a layer of za'tar oil, heavily spiced chicken shawarma, chopped tomatoes, red onion and crumbled feta cheese. If you're craving more egg after your brik, you can opt to have a fried egg added to any of the cocas.

Who's at the next table: A group of older women on the patio singing along to TLC's "Creep," some casually dressed thirtysomethings on a triple date, each with a pink agua fresca in hand, and a couple in business attire and backpacks stopping in for a bite to eat and a beer before heading home.  

Appropriate for: Any occasion. The chef's table makes for a nice spot for private parties and there are plenty of parking options surrounding the building.

Uh-oh: Dinner can take a while, but no one at the table seemed to mind.

Service: Friendly and really informative. Each dish comes with an explanation of what it is and where it's from.

What are you drinking?  A melon and cucumber agua fresca. Bonus points if you order a shot of vodka on the side.

Info:  1111 South Hope Street, #110, Los Angeles  (213) 746-7766,

My mom insists I'm a good dinner date. Follow me on Twitter @Jenn_Harris.