By Michael J. Fitzgerald | Photos By David Meza
Brezo at Baltic Square, Point Richmond’s newest restaurant, is an eclectic mix of old and new.
The old is the historic Baltic building, built in 1904. At different times it has been a private home, a speakeasy, a funeral parlor, a saloon, and a German restaurant, among other things. (The name “Baltic” remains emblazoned on the front windows of the original tavern.)
The new is the new owners, Heather Mervine and Hector Hernandez, who revamped the restaurant’s interior and offer a menu of items they call “California Latin Fusion,” a blend of food that has something for the most dedicated carnivores to the most faithful vegetarians.
The couple has a long history in the food industry in the Bay Area, working at various restaurants and catering. Mervine attended the California Culinary Academy and was raised on an organic farm in Ukiah. Hernandez is originally from Mexico City.
The couple met while working at Paula Le Duc Fine Catering in Emeryville.
“But I decided I really wanted to do my own food,” Mervine says.
She focuses her culinary efforts on doing the side dishes coming out of the Brezo kitchen as well as making all of the restaurant’s pastries. Hernandez’s specialty is cooking the meat items offered.
“But honestly, Hector can cook anything,” she says.
Mervine’s personal favorites on the menu are the kale quinoa salad, grilled zucchini, and the cod or chicken sandwich. But she says she is also tempted by green chili braised chicken and the grilled rib eye steak.
Since the restaurant opened in February, the most popular items with customers are braised short ribs, green chili chicken, chilaquiles, polenta with eggs, and scallops.
“Right now, we are kind of feeling out what the customers want,” Mervine says.
Also in the works: opening the deck in the back of the restaurant for table service, and providing musical entertainment. The expansive wooden deck only needs time to dry out after this winter’s heavy rains before it will be pressed into service.
Music is a little more complicated. But the couple is looking at beginning with music during their Sunday brunch service.
The couple tries to offer food that is organic and sustainable whenever possible. Even some of the wines behind the historic bar are organic, Mervine says.
Beer and wine are available, along with plenty of non-alcoholic beverages. The restaurant is considering getting a full liquor license as well.
While the couple has their hands full running the restaurant six days a week, they are also open to hosting special events, particularly when the deck becomes available.
They also have their hands full with their three children: Valeria, 13, Wesley, 6, and 2-year-old Evelyn.
“We are a family restaurant, for sure,” Mervine says.
And where did the couple come up with the name, Brezo at Baltic Square for their restaurant?
“Brezo” means heather in Spanish.
If you go: Brezo at Baltic Square is located at 135 Park Place. The restaurant is open Tuesday through Sunday, with dinner Tuesday through Saturday, and brunch offered on the weekends. Brezo is closed on Mondays. Reservations are not required but can be made by calling 510-680-5196.