It was a long, hard winter which, honestly, now that I’m looking back on it, I managed to block most of it out. But dare I say that spring has perhaps been worse, and not necessarily because of the fits-n-starts weather that teased all of us into thinking life was about to go our way (yeah right). Instead, it was the uncertainty of whether or not the Barge Bar was ever going to reopen along the Greenpoint waterfront.
Plenty of upscale diners have hit the food scene as of late– for one, there’s Juno, the Bushwick restaurant that John Barclay (founding dude at Bossa Nova Civic Club) recently pulled out of– and there was even a short-lived spot called Amancay’s Diner that was, well, a bit more of a downscale kind of place, with a spin-the-bottle setup and an owner who was better known for throwing jello-wrestling parties than his food.
But Hail Mary– a new Greenpoint restaurant that opened on Wednesday night in the former home of 68 and then subsequently (briefly too) Hook & Cleaver which was run by Chopped chef Diane DiMeo– is pushing the diner concept even further with their avant-garde take on the American everyman classic.
I’m not on many models’ speed dial, so I was surprised when New York-based Brazilian model Andressa Junqueira called me to tell me about a new restaurant that she and her husband chef Carlos Varella just opened in Rockaway last week.
Called Beach Bistro 96, it’s taking over the space previously occupied by Anna Bow (and before that occupied by Veggie Island) to offer “Brazilian internacional fusion” fare, with dishes ranging from Brazil’s national dish feijoada (black beans with pork meat, rice, kale, orange slices and farofa), served on Wednesdays and Saturdays, to ratatouille and temaki sushi hand rolls.
Behind an old-school bodega-like awning Josh Ku and Trigg Brown are putting the finishing touches on Win Son, their brand new Taiwanese-American restaurant, officially opening on Thursday. The place has an unassuming facade (I almost walked right past it, actually), but is home to a relatively spacious neighborhood eatery awash in natural light. Win Son lies somewhere between upscale and approachable, but with an angle on one Asian cuisine that’s surprising enough to turn all sorts of heads.
Brooklyn Brewery today announced plans to roll out their barrel program to the Brooklyn Navy Yard in a big way. The Williamsburg-based beer operation already has a warehouse at the yard where they’re aging 2,000 barrels of wine, bourbon, rum and mezcal by way of experimental processes. But come 2018, the company will open their new “primary headquarters” to the public inside Building 77 at the center of the yard, where they plan to produce 50,000 barrels of beer annually.
Williamsburg already has its share of oddities: soaps that look like cupcakes, budding taxidermy museums, and, of course, Pat Kiernan. But one thing it doesn’t have is cheesecake in a cone. That’s about to change. Signage indicates T-Swirl Crêpe is planting its flag on North 7th, right down the block from the Starbucks and Dunkin’ Donuts, and right across the street from 16 Handles.
If you had to spend a day stopping in at every shop in Brooklyn that hawks bespoke menswear, by sunset you’d need a very tall glass of whiskey indeed. Custom, handmade shoes, on the other hand, are a tradition that’s relatively hard to find around these yrts, even as a hipster revivalist thing.
That probably explains why Eric Pitzer– a guy who back in 2010 ditched his unfulfilling corporate day job in Ohio and ran away to Santiago, Chile (a place he’d never been before) to work in a tire factory– felt like he had come across something really special when he met Jaime Cardemil. “Here, shoemaking is kind of a lost thing,” Pitzer said.
The idea of a Tim Burton theme bar opening in the East Village is so weird on so many levels that I started to drive myself bonkers unpacking the implications of this so-called Beetle House. Would this be an ironic ode to Tumblr culture and fan fiction? A comment on how themed consumer culture has reached bizarre peaks? As it turns out, Beetle House is actually just a completely earnest theme bar and restaurant dedicated to the beloved, oh-so-spooky-creepy films of Tim Burton. Which hasn’t stopped it from getting smacked with a cease-and-desist from the director’s minders.
“I was like, ‘Why don’t we open a bar?'” co-owner Zach Neil recalls telling Brian Link, his business partner and BFF who was suffering from “massive depression” last year. “Bars are fun, it’s like having a birthday party every night. People come in, they hang out, you drink, hang out, everything’s good.”
Inspired by trips to Hawaii, Michael Lombardozzi has opened Dromedary, a 16-seat bar that aims to be tiki without being tacky. Inside, Bushwick’s newest watering hole looks like a dilapidated old store (“in a good way,” insists the owner/“drinks guy”). The decor is “loosely based around the aesthetic of a tiki bar,” with a foam-green banquet that’s supposed to be reminiscent of palm trees, an oceanic aqua-green wall, and “little hints of Hawaiian culture,” like tiki god masks. There’s a small outdoor area for two-person tables.
For several summers now, Rockaway Brewing Co. has been a fixture at the beach. Now the budding brewery is fixing to build a beach of its own, with a sandy oasis set to open near the Ridgewood/Bushwick border. Tentatively called Playa NYC, it’s one of three major projects in the works, the other two of which will be right on the brand’s namesake peninsula.
In Japan, a tiny studio apartment is often known as a “rabbit hutch”–usually a cramped little space for young people to get a foothold in the big city. So when Chef Yoshiko Sakuma found a little nook for her first restaurant on a quiet stretch of Forsyth Street, the name stuck. Rabbit House, her 14-seat wine-and-sake bar, is a refuge and lab for her whimsical culinary experiments, drawing inspiration from around the world to create unexpected European tapas dishes dusted with Japanese moxie.