If you’ve exited the Graham Avenue L station recently, a tiny newcomer tucked away next to the corner bodega and behind a knockout set of art deco doors may have caught your eye. Little King (749 Metropolitan Ave.) has been quietly open for the past several weeks, nestled inside an elfin den that actually feels like it’s just the right size. It’s perfectly cozy, and to those nearby should become a favorite neighborhood spot. Given Graham Avenue’s recently changing landscape—late October saw the closure of Oak Wine Bar, soon Daddy’s is shuttering (and we hear Mother’s is not far behind)—in addition to a handful of empty storefronts, the area could use an additional post-work friendly local joint to wind down in and meet up with friends. Or even a good place to meet a Tinder date—Little King’s style is dressed to impress yet worn and approachable, so it fits the first date bill.
Inside Little King—the timeless vintage interior impeccably designed by partner Christina Salway—you’ll find a careful selection of all natural and biodynamic wines, a full bar with classic-sounding yet original cocktails (The John Henry, The War Horse, The Stoddard, among others), and a tight bar food menu.
When we were there we tried a few dishes that are no longer available—which means the team has been hard at work refining the food, and keeping what works (the burger has been on the menu since day one). Some of the menu is Southeast Asian-inspired (the Chili-Sesame Glazed Wings, the daily Crudo, the Pork Belly Donut, the Mussels in Spicy Turmeric Broth), and the rest (the Burger, Salumi Baguette, Chicken Skewers, Brioche Grilled Cheese) falls squarely in New American pub food-land. But that bar menu categorization doesn’t mean it’s old hat; it’s simply comfort food at it’s comfiest. And chef Philip Vernier, formerly the executive sous chef at Five Leaves, knows the right way to serve it up.
The favorite dishes we tried were the Pork Belly Donut and the Grilled Cheese. Thinking about the pork belly is actually making my mouth water as I write this; some might call it an overhyped menu ingredient, but ask anyone in the midst of chowing down on that tender melty sweetness what they think and they’ll undoubtedly say they’d order it again. The Grilled Cheese was a surprise, in the sense that it was a step above a typical grilled cheese. The brioche bread was flaky and filling, and an excellent compliment to the cheesy goodness. We didn’t have the burger, but apparently it’s a solid go-to item for many guests.
A year ago, Little King was just a twinkle in the eye of three friends—Christina (who painted the floors! they are awesome!), her husband John Moskowitz (local bartender, former TV writer), and Sam Esterman (Eataly, ICE, ‘wichcraft)—who all had the goal of opening a bar space where friends and neighbors could cut loose, crack open a can of beer but still feel classy. A neighborhood stomping ground where burgers and fries could soak up the booze from exquisite yet unassuming cocktails. And while picking themselves up “by the bootstraps” and “on a shoestring,” they’ve succeeded.
So the next time you’re hopping off the train at Graham Avenue, forget about walking home through the cold and remind yourself to make a pitstop at Little King. You just might end up settling in all winter long.
Little King | 749 Metropolitan Avenue