It may be hard to remember those sweet hot nights of summer but, when they finally roll round, al fresco drinking spots will be high in demand. The small rooftop at Night of Joy is usually my favorite, but the view of the BQE often leaves something to be desired. Berry Park’s roof has a better view and a far larger capacity, but now the team behind the popular drinking mecca is in danger of stealing their own thunder.
Last week the owners of Berry Park opened up Northern Territory (12 Franklin St) a great new bar and restaurant with a huge rooftop over-looking the East River. They are still adding the finishing touches upstairs but assure us the rooftop will be open at the beginning of April, just in time for the appearance of some warmer weather.
In the meantime they boast a really lovely downstairs area, with a long, L-shaped bar and a beautifully designed dining area of wood and exposed brick, with obligatory Mason jar water glasses glinting invitingly on every table.
On opening night Jen G and I perched at the bar and ordered two of their ‘classic’ cocktails, an Old Fashioned and an Americano. We were told that they put their own twist on the classics and, in the case of my Old Fashioned, this was the addition of an orange liqueur. This made for a sweeter, weaker drink than anticipated. Jen’s Americano was much better. It was mixed with Cynar instead of Campari and its bold twisty flavor was proof that they definitely know how to mix a killer cocktail.
Northern Territory has a mouth-watering menu created by chef Gabriela Ponce of Berry Park. Grilled skewers appear to be something of a speciality, and the choice of six includes garlic prawns, mint-marinated lamb, halloumi, and sirloin steak. All are priced between $4-$6 so perfect for sharing at the bar, along with other tasty snacks such as grilled calamari, mushroom bruschetta, and rosemary potato wedges.
Heartier dishes come in the form of lemon-marinated trout cooked in foil, beef pie topped with mash, mushy peas and gravy, fish and chips, and an Aussie burger.
Jen and I had just come from dining at Brooklyn Safehouse (review to follow) so in order to sample the NT menu we opted for dessert and were proclaimed the first customers to try their pavlova. And it was DIVINE! Heavenly chunks of meringue (a brief outer crunch collapsing into a melty, pillowy inner-fluffiness) combined with whipped cream and sweet, juicy berries.
By now you’ll have picked up on enough hints to detect the presence of an Aussie influence. And you’d be right. Yes, the bar named after the northern-most state of Australia, serving up prawns, meat pies and pavlova indeed joins the ranks of Five Leaves and Van Leeuwen in local eateries with an Antipodean heritage. But the Canberra-born co-owner Jamie was keen to point out that this definitely isn’t a clichéd Aussie bar, it just happens to borrow some of the finer elements of dining Down Under. Like delicious grilled foods, a chilled vibe, and the know-how behind a really good flat white.
Following in the footsteps of other large bars with outdoor seating such as Spritzenhaus and Berry Park, Northern Territory is likely to get rammed in the warmer months, especially with its unobstructed view of the world’s favorite skyline. Fortunately, the fact that it backs onto the excellent (and equally huge) new brew-pub Dirck the Norseman means that there’ll be more than enough space for everyone to get a prime piece of bar-stool real estate on Franklin Street when it comes to toasting the beginning of summer.