First came Fushimi, a super-sized, super-shiny sushi joint that boasts the lingering spirit of a 90s lounge bar. Now, on the opposite side of the street there has sprung up a new mega-restaurant called MP Taverna, the fourth in a string of Greek establishments of the same name, spear-headed by celebrity chef Michael Psilakis.
Psilakis has become known for his appearances on a host of cooking shows such as Iron Chef America and Ultimate Recipe Showdown, but his real kudos came about in 2008 when a Michelin star was awarded to Anthos, an upmarket restaurant he started in midtown Manhattan.
Seven years on and Psilakis is bringing his celebrated Greek food to Brooklyn. Less high-end than Anthos, MP Taverna aims to provide a contemporary take on the traditional Greek tavern, with a focus on mezze dishes that can be shared family style.
Next door to MP Taverna is Psilakis’ next venture called ‘The Hall Brooklyn‘, a giant events venue whose recent opening heralded a flashy party, complete with cordoned-off entrance line and bouncers with earpieces.
Inside the the cavernous party space, burlesque dancers strutted around to the live vocals of Jackie Greene (of Black Crowes fame), guests posed in a ‘gif-booth’, a tarot reader battled bassy beats to give punters accurate life predictions, and a tattoo artist who had been flown in from Massachusetts carved out food-themed tattoos on willing victims (of which there were many, including several ink virgins).
An opulent Greek buffet complete with suckling pig was spread over long tables, and was such a feast we felt as though we’d stumbled upon someone’s wedding celebrations. The Michelin men weren’t kidding when they told us Psilakis knows how to cook!
The bar runs along part of the left wall and is austerely decked out in grey and marble with two imposing stallion heads glowering down over the beer taps. There’s a whopping 28 beers on draft, as well as 15 pre-mixed cocktails. I had a Blood Orange Negroni and although it wasn’t the stiffest version I’d ever tried, it was definitely served the quickest. With a venue capacity of this size I’d say that reduced waiting time at the bar could turn out to be a definite bonus.
According to a press release, the chief aim of The Hall is to ‘bring a state of the art performance venue to the neighborhood, showcasing both local and national talent’, with a line-up that currently consists of live music and stand-up comedy. Visitors will be able to order food from the adjoining MP Taverna kitchen to enjoy at tables whilst watching a show. And though quick bites such as antipasti and halloumi sliders are on offer, whole roasted piglets (and other small mammals) are also an option for those wholly committed to an evening’s entertainment.
The majority of events at The Hall are free and a nightly happy hour between 5-8pm puts all draft drinks (including cocktails) at half price. Whilst it may not be the quintessential Brooklyn music venue, the increasing number of revelers flocking across the bridge means that Williamsburg now has to cater to all sorts and I’ve no doubt many will find themselves right at home here.
MP Taverna and The Hall Brooklyn are at 470 Driggs Avenue (between N 10th and N 11th streets).