The grand opening of Berg’n is finally upon us. This Wednesday, Smorgasburg welcomes guests to its new Crown Heights beer garden and food court.
We’re sure founders Jonathan Butler and Eric Demby are going to be seriously relieved to see the end of the social media harassment that’s been leveled at them since they failed to open on their initial prospective opening date last spring. But thankfully, there were no angry mobs outside the pristine brick building on Friday when B+B got the chance to preview what Berg’n has to offer.
As a resident of the neighborhood for the past two years, I’ve seen hordes of new bars and restaurants catering to the gentrifying population claim their spots on and around Franklin Avenue– some are welcome developments, while others leave residents scratching their heads. But few newcomers have been as hyped up as Berg’n. The place is filled with some undeniably delicious stuff (this reporter refuses to be won over by that very strange — and admittedly tasty — thing called a ramen burger), but Smorgasburgers will find it a far cry from the full Smorg experience.
The white-washed interior has an industrial, impersonal vibe that’s in stark contrast to the area’s cozier restaurants and more in keeping with a refurbished and awkwardly transplanted North Brooklyn warehouse. Or, for that matter, with the new rental tower at the corner of Franklin and Eastern Parkway (the one where there’s going to be a Starbucks at the ground level and two-bedrooms are going for $3,400). The massive open space, designed by architect Annabelle Selldorf of 10 Bond Street, is clearly geared toward packing in as many bodies possible, so patrons can down Dough doughnuts, Blue Marble ice cream, and about a dozen beers on tap at lightning speed without counting what they’re spending at each register along the way.
That makes Berg’n a suitable space for sloppy parties, but compared to the cornucopia that is Smorgasburg it doesn’t offer all that many new things to the neighborhood.
There are four vendors lined up against the wall like a mall food court: Pizza Moto (offering fat slices of wood-fired pizza), Ramen Burger, Asia Dog, and Mighty Quinn’s Barbeque. Ok, so admittedly the area didn’t have any viral-worthy food before the arrival of the noodle-bunned burgers and the Asian corndogs (which suddenly seem to be a thing). But it did already have amazing barbecue (David’s Brisket House, Little Brother BBQ) and wood-fired pizza galore (Barboncino, Emily). And at slightly cheaper prices, we might add (the food at the press preview was free, but prices were posted on boards, as you can see below.)
There is, however, one inevitable reality that might actually give Berg’n an advantage: winter. It’s hard to gather large groups during the official season of depression — particularly in Crown Heights, which has a number of establishments that rely heavily on their outdoor spaces to serve large numbers of guests. Berg’n’s vast indoor space could prove to be the deciding factor for some once the temperatures drop.
And Ramen Burger will have just the thing for them: a brothless “burger ramen” ($10) made with noodles, a beef patty, and arugula that can be topped with egg, cheese, bacon and shredded beef for just $7 more.
Check out the rest of the offerings below (click on any menu for a closer look).
Berg’n, 899 Bergen St., bet. Classon and Franklin Aves., (718) 857-2337; open Sun to Thurs from 8 a.m. to 1 a.m., Fri and Sat from till 2 a.m.