DAVIDSON – There is an old saying that if you want to find the best restaurants, follow the cops.

On any given day, Brickhouse Tavern is full of police officers. And firefighters. And EMTs. If a call comes while they are dining, they simply get up from the table and leave, knowing full well that their meal will be waiting for them upon their return.

It is one of many subtle reminders that Brickhouse is a true neighborhood place where turning over a table is not as important as our public service workers.

Owner Nick Lyssikatos opened Brickhouse Tavern in 2002. His parents had run smaller restaurants in his home state of New Jersey, so he grew up in the business. The space in Davidson had housed a restaurant for one year prior to him buying it. Lyssikatos appropriated it to fit with his vision of a tavern; a comfortable vibe with a high-end feel.

There are high-backed leather chairs, a long, hand-crafted bar, a lofty black ceiling with exposed beams and brick walls everywhere.

He also spent some time crafting the menu to create a culinary experience for the customer.

“The menu is not typical of a tavern,” said Lyssikatos. “We have lamb chops, shrimp, salmon, pizza, filets and ribs.”

Little touches pepper the menu: the beef is all certified angus, high-end grande mozzarella goes on the pizza and fresh pepperoni is cut from long rolls.

Even the look of the actual menu is unusual: large and leather-bound with embossed writing on the front. The majority of the menu items are made in-house, including all sauces, dressings, pizza dough, breading on the chicken parmesan, and meatballs.

“We stay away from packaged items,” said Lyssikatos. “We slow-cook our prime rib and ribs to create the best taste possible.”

The menu is also generous with portion sizes. For example, the 12” pizza on the menu is actually 13 1/2 inches.

Many menu items have a Mediterranean twist, such as the New Zealand lamp chops which are marinated with simple, fresh ingredients and then served with a homemade cucumber sauce which perfectly compliments the meat.

“That cucumber sauce is from my mother,” said Lyssikatos. “But I added some fresh twists to it.”

Scott Searcy eats at Brickhouse at least five days a week.

“The fried asparagus and the pasta are my favorites,” he said. “But I keep coming back because of the friendly service.”

Butch Gibson of Denver and Billy Todd of Huntersville are firemen eating at the restaurant.

“I don’t know that I’ve ever had anything I didn’t like there,” said Todd. “They really accommodate us and save our place,” said Gibson.

Like any good tavern, the bar crowd at Brickhouse is bumping. But don’t expect to find just college students or blue collar workers. There is an eclectic mixture from all walks of life.

“We truly are the Cheers of Davidson,” said Lyssikatos with a smile. “We’ve got all sorts of people talking about events and politics and it is just great.”

But even Cheers probably didn’t have 50 beers to choose from. 

Brickhouse Tavern

209 Delburg St., Davidson