For a moment, it might have seemed like Dear Bushwick, the Michelin-recognized “English country kitchen and bar,” had gone by the wayside. Julian Mohamed, who ran the place with Darren Grenia, told us the restaurant was closed for about two weeks. But with the expansion of the duo’s Bushwick empire to include Yours Sincerely– a new cocktail bar with on-draft potables and, briefly, its very own resident tax attorney– a Dear Bushwick closing seemed unlikely. Yesterday we received an email from the restaurant, clearly sent out to silence some of the whispers. “You may or may not have heard some rumors, regardless we haven’t closed,” Mohamed wrote. “But we have changed things up… a lot.”
Enter Sincerely Burger, which has its grand opening tonight, Friday, March 18. “We just wanted to try something new, something fun,” Mohamed told me when I stopped by the restaurant last night. The place was booming for a “friends and family” soft opening, where guests were treated to freebies from the new menu– which features, you guessed it, burgers. The place was filled with the smell of sizzling meat and melted cheese last night, a far cry from its predecessor’s seasonal, creative takes on Limey classics like English breakfast and pork chop served in an iron skillet.
The new menu is divided between “naughty” and “nice” options priced between $4 and $14. The “nice” category is dedicated to snacks (pickles, root chips) and relatively healthful (as in plant-based) fare like braised carrots ($9) and a veggie burger ($8 for a “black bean ramen patty” with corn, lettuce, and jalapeño cilantro vinaigrette). Then again there’s the confusing presence of a fish burger ($9), made from cod topped with kimchee mayo and pickled cabbage, and the murderously indulgent meat-heavy “gourmet burger” with braised oxtail, a “stuffed dry-aged beef patty,” gruyere, onion, and bone marrow aioli, served on sourdough– but I guess not everyone’s definition of “nice” is quite the same.
How much naughtier can you get than that “gourmet burger”? Well, Sincerely offers French fries of the shoestring variety, for one. And don’t for a moment doubt the naughty potential of their frisee salad, which besides the leafy green includes pork skin and a poached egg doused in sherry vinaigrette. The restaurant’s “classic burger” comes with “cheese sauce” and lettuce on a potato roll.
The drinks menu hasn’t been released just yet, but we’re told it includes boozy milkshakes, also a huge shift from Dear Bushwick’s sophisticated gin- and sherry-cocktail selection.
Even the antiqued-cottage interior, complete with bird cages and Anglo-Saxon historical references, has seen an update. Some of those framed portraits of dead white people have been replaced with typical hipster decor like a series of Polaroids dangling from a string and geometric candle cages. The Anthropologie-esque wallpaper is out, traded in for freshly painted walls and colorful paintings, including one of a vaguely rabbit-shaped form that resembles Jake Gyllenhaal’s pal in Donnie Darko.
So why such a dramatic change? As the restaurant noted in their public announcement, the owners recently split with their head chef, Jessica Wilson, but emphasized it was an “amicable” divorce. Wilson’s Facebook post announcing her departure confirmed that she left “with a heavy heart.”
The owners noted in their public announcement: “We were getting bored with the English Country Kitchen concept, and were itching to get creative again,” and admitted that their new bar made them realize that cheaper fare was in order. Nevermind that the new chef, Christian Ortiz, boasts experience at some seriously hoity-toity spots like Daniel and Le Bernardin.
Some things at Sincerely Burger have stayed the same, however, the restaurant will continue to be chill about vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free options (Dear Bushwick repeatedly won praise for their flexible options) and they haven’t completely ditched the “Dear Bushwick” monicker.
As for those bird cages, they were given a pass too.