It took me a minute to realize I had been to Silver Light Tavern once before — in the something’s–always–opening scene of Brooklyn restaurants, it can be hard to differentiate locations that make great use of votive candles, bespoke bars, and succulents aplenty. Continue reading
You could say this gastropub knows its audience: with an additional 2,000 square feet to play with, Randolph Beer (104 S 4th St) relaunched its Williamsburg location adding shuffleboard tables, old-school video games, and a new outdoor space.
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A leader in the nanobrewery movement (and the first to lay its roots in Williamsburg), Randoph Beer crafts an impressive number and diverse array of beers in-house. (You can thank beer savant and full-time brewer Flint Whistler for that.) Available beers range from Cucumber Pilsner with Elderflower & Tequila Barrel Spirals (a light, botanical brew that doesn’t taste at all briny) to a Pumpkin Spice Latte Stout (riffing on the PSLs we all deny we love) and a more classic Farmhouse (made with NYC honey and fresh hops). Continue reading
We’ll start with this: Ainslie is enormous. Sprawling and industrial, it’s almost like its own campus, packed with large open patios and tucked-away crannies, and (for those who enjoy people watching), a catwalk above the main bar to peruse the crowd. Oh, and there’s a rooftop.
But despite how large the 10,000-square-foot restaurant, there’s an intimacy to the space (props to the kind and knowledgable staff) and a warmth to its interior (thanks to the wood-burning oven), all of which contributes to a full stomach and fantastic night out.
Named for the street it dominates, Ainslie is part wine bar, part Biergarten, part perfect-date spot for apps and handsomely priced happy hour treats. On a weeknight, you’ll see couples and even some kids enjoying the Italian fare of the menu (spoiler: everything looks and is appetizing), but I’d imagine the weekends bring in a more dynamic, fresher crowd. And that’s part of Ainsliee’s appeal — it is amorphous without losing definition; the space can be whatever you want it to be. (Birthday parties will surely be a hit here.) Gorgeously designed by Sergio and Mario Riva as well as AJ Bontempo, Ainslie is housed in an excavated old factory, features exposed beams and bricks, and sits in one of the most desirably locations of northern Brooklyn: right where the G and L trains meet. Commuters will have a hard time not swinging by on their ways home from the Lorimer or Metropolitan stations; the very many doors and windows of the building’s rustic facade stay open as the humming noise within spills out onto the streets, inviting.
Chefs John DeLucie and Erasmo ‘Mino’ Lassandro crafted a menu featuring homemade pastas and wood-fired pizzas, but other dishes are just as saucy, including the mascarpone and thyme-infused honey bruschetta (a must for starters, though you might want to order two) and the rosemary wings (with gorgonzola dulce dipping sauce). Vegetarians and pescatarians will find lots to play with on this menu.
As will anyone looking for a chance to explore this cavernous space, which resembles a playground for Brooklynites, and with so many nooks to explore, it begs to be revisited.
The Franklin Guesthouse has been motherless for years, but at long last Madre has arrived.
Serving a curated menu that veers toward comfort food and offering a homey-chic ambiance germane to birthday dinners and happy hours alike, Madre indeed evokes a maternal vibe at 214 Franklin Street. But don’t let the name confuse you: Madre is neither a Mexican restaurant nor a tapas bar. Instead, it serves a delectable medley of new-American cuisine with plenty of punch in its dozen or so dishes. Come for the dollar oysters, stay for everything else.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with a nostalgia-soaked night of music, and on Wednesday night at Warsaw (261 Driggs Ave.), Saves the Day was exactly that. But although it pains me to write, the nostalgia seems to be wearing thin.
It was an early 2000’s North East emo basement scene recreated nearly 20 years later in North Brooklyn, in front of all those 17-year-olds who are now nearing their 40s. Although the band on stage at Warsaw still features emo-rock legend vocalist Chris Conley, most of the other members- a literal revolving door with over 20 different people over the years- are mostly all new. The previous dozen plus band members chose to bow out years ago when it just stopped being fun, countless years before the creation of the newly released ninth studio album which dropped earlier this November.
Three or four times during the 90 minute set, there were sparks from the fan favorites that put the band on the national map, such as the opener “At Your Funeral,” “Freakish,” or “Holly Hox.” For the remainder of the setlist, the audience was starved of what they paid to hear- the early catalog- and for a Wednesday night, the packed crowd was not willing to fake it. Conley has every right to create a set list which he prefers, relying on either newer or older songs, but musicians can read audiences very quickly and Conley knows what is going on. The audience stood idle in for large chunks of time while newer songs were performed and it appeared tough for the other bandmates to fake the energy on stage. Conley was often stationary in the center and putting out low energy all night, something I previously have not seen out of him during more recent live performances. Continue reading
It’s time for your half-year check-in, Elder Greene!
This nifty and newish bar has been delighting visitors on the corner of Kent and Franklin (prime real estate) since it opened at the very end of April. At 160 Franklin, this gastropub — cozy and casual, classic but eclectic — boasts specialty cocktails, dude food aplenty, and a warm, inviting staff. Dinner is offered regularly and brunch on weekends with new additions often frequenting a menu prepared by a proficient kitchen staff.
By day, Elder Green’s a sun-drenched hangout for barflies and lunch-goers who can feast on chicken-slathered nachos, mac&cheese, or a blackened chicken sandwich. But by night, Elder Greene transforms into a cavernous and candlelit sanctuary, a place to go and mellow out at the bar or socialize with friends at the tables on the ground floor. No matter where you sit, be sure to try the delicious rosemary-infused gin cocktail, Pretty Tied Up. It’s delectable and is sure to keep Elder Greene in business for another six months. Here’s to many more anniversaries!
Greenpoint Gems: Wanpaku Ramen also hosts The Hidden Pearl, a Secret Craft Bar in the Back of the Restaurant
Many restaurants have a craft cocktail menu, but few have their own craft cocktail bar. Wanpaku — the ramen powerhouse at 621 Manhattan Avenue — is one of the rare eateries to succeed in creating two distinct ambiances in one compact space. Nestled in the back of the restaurant, The Hidden Pearl is a transportive 20-seat speakeasy
Between the restaurant’s food and the bar’s drinks, it’s hard to say which is better. Luckily, they pair perfectly. Stop by the bar before having a meal, or vice versa, but be sure to make a reservation at the bar; given The Hidden Pearl’s size, it’s best to put your name in ahead. If you’re starting at the bar, a special to begin with might be the $10 shooter — a savory and seaside concoction that blends fish eggs, a quail egg, and more. Simultaneously briny and refreshing, it’s yummier than you might think, and it tastes of the ocean. Continue reading
Al fresco dining, light but filling fare, and a quieter pocket of Williamsburg: Salt+Charcoal offers it all with flare and flavors aplenty. Located on the corner of Bedford and Grand, this Japanese steakhouse is mercifully out of the weeds of the hectic Bedford Ave L Train buzz. (But at a healthy six-blocks distance, you can still feel part of the action.) And don’t let the steakhouse classification deter you: the vibe is smart-casual even as the attentive service uplifts it.
Salt+Charcoal serves Asian “temple” or “monk’s” food, which has recently been gaining notoriety— see the Chef’s Table episode on it — but in actuality, this shojin style is the foundation of all Japanese cuisine, and the purest form of Kaiseki-style dining.
Come Tuesday June 26, the restaurant is offering a one-of-a-kind experience that paradoxically bridges the world of shojin with that of Japanese dry-aged beef in a harmonious nine-course tasting event.
Order the Myrtle-scented pork ribs. Yes, this post is about Le Fanfare’s (1103 Manhattan Ave) irresistible $10 pasta special, but you won’t be dissatisfied if you veer onto the main menu and indulge in the ribs. Served over a bed of organic polenta and topped with fresh greens, this entrée slides off the bone and — I swear — doesn’t get stuck in your teeth. Were the bones pre-lubed, or is it some other culinary magic? Greenpoint may never know.
But anyway — back to the pasta. Le Fanfare, the charming Italian gem between Clay and Dupont on Manhattan Avenue, has recently launched irresistible pasta specials. Every Monday through Wednesday, Le Fanfare serves three off-menu pasta specials for $10 a dish. Continue reading