After five years near the Morgan stop, bar and restaurant Tutu’s closed up shop in November 2017. While some vacant storefronts lie empty for what seems like eternities—nearby sports bar Tiltz had a two-year gap between announcing it would open and actually opening—the Bogart Street space is already home to a new tenant: Benelux, a bar and restaurant serving European-inspired food and cocktails that officially opened for lunch, brunch, and dinner yesterday.
Benelux is owned by John Moskowitz and Sam Esterman, and designed by Moskowitz’s wife Christina Salway; the trio is also behind Williamsburg bar Little King. Moskowitz says he didn’t feel there were many dining options in the area that were “normal middle-ground,” in terms of vibe and price. Bushwick is “not just for raves anymore,” he jokes, so they’re aiming to be a place that’s grown-up while still being casual and fun.
Benelux is “unofficially” a Belgian diner, drawing gastronomic inspiration (as well as its name) from Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg. As such, the menu features stroopwafels, schnitzel, mitraillette (a “Belgian classic” sandwich with roasted ham, cheese, and pickles stuffed with fries), and a $60 “sausage fest” of bratwurst, kielbasa, and cheddarwurst galore, plus various sides. Less daring or more solitary consumers can order sausages individually.
Though there’s plenty of meat on the menu, Moskowitz tells Bedford + Bowery, “if you’re a vegetarian, you should feel like we did some work for you.” Any of their burgers can be made with an Impossible Burger patty, and among the sausage, steak, and oysters, there’s a hearty “cabbage steak” (a thick slice of cabbage slow-braised and seared, topped with pecorino, sunflower seeds, and pickled pomegranate seeds) and an entrée of lentils and vegetables.
They’ve chosen “not to work with the two major purveyors of spirits,” Southern Glazer’s Wine and Spirits and Empire Merchants, companies Moskowitz calls “kind of like the liquor mafia.” Instead, they carry only spirits from small brands, which he notes is both fun and “challenging.” All their wine is natural, and there’s a separate gin and tonic menu in addition to their main cocktail offerings, which is “a very European thing to do.”
They’re serving brunch as well (though American-style waffles will take precedence over Belgian), and plan to have a DJ at their first brunch, which Moskowitz admits will either be “fun” or “irritating.”
Overall, he’d like the restaurant to be a “catch-all place” with something for everyone. “We really aim to be a neighborhood place that you can also take a date to, or show your mom how well you’re doing out here,” he says.
Benelux is located at 25 Bogart Street in Bushwick.