By Avocet Greenwell
Lawrenceville’s Brick Shop restaurant pays homage to neighborhood history, the chef’s personal heritage, and the greater tradition of Ashkenazi Jewish cuisine. Headed by Executive Chef Brandon Blumenfeld, the restaurant markets itself as “a seasonal contemporary restaurant, with flavors rooted in Central and Eastern Europe, layered with simple, delicious preparations, and sourced with local goodness.” The restaurant is one of two located in the TRYP Hotel, which occupies the former Washington Education Center trade school on 40th Street. Brick Shop’s name derives from its location in the former school’s brick shop. The restaurant’s fresh iterations of classics from Eastern European and Caucasian region cuisines help elevate Ashkenazi Jewish food to gastronomic prominence and appreciation in Pittsburgh.
Brick Shop takes inspiration from a story many Jewish Pittsburghers could identify with; Blumenfeld’s cuisine takes as its starting point recipes from his grandparents and great-grandparents, who hailed from Poland. “I started by looking at the childhood influences of the food I ate at my Ashkenazi Jewish grandmother’s house,” Blumenfeld said. “I want people to feel that they are having dinner at their Eastern European grandmother’s house when they eat at Brick Shop.”
The restaurant’s menu features food and drink that those familiar with Eastern European and Ashkenazi cuisines will recognize and identify with. Drawing from his family heritage, Blumenfeld’s recipe for kreplach is named for his great-grandfather, who was known as Little Tailor (the menu features “Little Tailor’s Kreplach”). The menu’s kasha varnishkes and potato kugel, Ashkenazi favorites, are also family recipes. Aside from recipes handed down from family, Blumenfeld’s menu features spaetzle, cholent, and of course, healthy helpings of sour cream atop a variety of dishes. These dishes bring Eastern European tastes and textures to Brick Shop’s diners, celebrating Ashkenazi cuisine.
Brick Shop highlights and elevates a cuisine that, while beloved in Pittsburgh, is overlooked in its restaurant scene. Alongside other “ethnic” cuisines, the status of Eastern European foods is often relegated to Bubby’s (Grandma’s) kitchen. Pierogis, a staple of Polish cuisine and a Pittsburgh favorite, are the province of Church fundraisers. Other successful restaurants like Apteka and The Vandal have drawn their inspiration from Central and Eastern European cuisines as well, but none other than Brick Shop showcase explicitly the dishes and tastes that Ashkenazi Jews clearly recognize as their own. Seeing traditional favorites in a modern––and social-media ready––setting is an important recognition of food, values, and culture, plated for the modern palate.
Brick Shop: Central & Eastern Europe Flavor in Pittsburgh. “Home page.” Brick Shop, accessed 15 Apr. 2020. https://brickshoppgh.com/. Screenshot by author.
Brick Shop. Photo of Plated Foods. Instagram, 14 Dec. 2019, https://www.instagram.com/p/B5qTOC2FsYT/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link.
Brick Shop: Central & Eastern Europe Flavor in Pittsburgh. Brick Shop. https://brickshoppgh.com/
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Locklin, Kristy. “TRYP Hotel in Lawrenceville has dining options: Brick Shop and Over Eden.” Trib Live, 24 Oct. 2019, https://triblive.com/local/pittsburgh-allegheny/tryp-hotel-in-lawrenceville-has-dining-options-brick-shop-and-over-eden/
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How to Cite
MLA: Greenwell, Avocet. “Brick Shop.” ReligYinz: Mapping Religious Pittsburgh. University of Pittsburgh, 21 May 2020, https://religyinz.pitt.edu/brick-shop/.
APA: Greenwell, Avocet. (2020, 21 May). Brick Shop. ReligYinz: Mapping Religious Pittsburgh. University of Pittsburgh. https://religyinz.pitt.edu/brick-shop/.
Chicago: Greenwell, Avocet. “Brick Shop.” ReligYinz: Mapping Religious Pittsburgh. University of Pittsburgh, 21 May 2020. https://religyinz.pitt.edu/brick-shop/.