Tucked in Greenpoint on Driggs Ave, Selamat Pagi is an Indonesian-influenced addition to the neighborhood, with plenty of options for vegetarians, vegans and meat-eaters alike. The restaurant quietly opened its doors in 2012 by Ben Van Leeuwen, Laura O’Neill, and Pete Van Leeuwen, the trio behind Van Leeuwen Ice Cream. The Indonesian menu is inspired by a series of trips to Bali and Laura O’Neill’s Australian background, where Indonesian food is widespread.
The stylish space features white walls, rustic light wood tabletops, a few thoughtfully placed potted plants and pink fluorescent light accents, emitting a retro-feeling cozy pink glow. The restaurant space was originally designed and built by its founders but underwent a renovation in 2016 led by the Brooklyn architecture firm Carpenter + Mason. Continue reading →
For our second piece in the Behind the Toque series (we last profiled Chef Eldad of Glasserie), we popped over to Selamat Pagi for a sunny Sunday brunch and chatted with Executive Chef Chef Mateusz (Matt) Wlodarski. Over a Bali Bowl and glass of rose, we talked experimentation, the exciting seasonal changes on the horizon, and the menu’s newest sambal, the recipe for which he shares below.
Selamat Pagi (pronounced “Sell-a-maht Pah-gee” and meaning “Good Morning” in Balinese) is the Indonesian brainchild of Peter and Ben Van Leeuwen and Laura O’Neill, also co-founders of Van Leeuwen Artisan Ice Cream. Similar to Van Leeuwen, Selamat Pagi is a harbinger of creativity and a playful, exploratory take on an alt cuisine (for our neighborhood at least) that nails it every time.
Don’t be fooled by the small, quaint space, and its unassuming location right off McGolrick Park. Each dish on the menu is beautifully constructed, a nuanced layering of Southeast Asian ingredients into modern renditions of Balinese classics.
I know that I do a lot of salad shit tawking, but that is only when it is insultingly offered as a side to a burger. As if in my self-destructive eating mindset I want to be reminded of my downward spiraling food choices. Shut up and give me fries!
That being said, I do specifically seek out certain perfect salads in Greenpoint. Salads that discreetly champion the getting old and dripping with pork guts offerings that cater to our bacon crazed foodie culture.
Selamat Pagi’s Bali Urap AKA Papaya Salad is utterly perfect and I make the walk all the way to the “other side” of McGuinness just to eat this salad. Continue reading →
My Dad Rocco was an Italian immigrant who grew up in Bushwick in the 50s. Other Italian immigrants settled in South Brooklyn, like Bensonhurst or Bayridge. Both areas regarded eachother as “The Other Brooklyn.”
It was just a matter of where you live, like it is here in Greenpoint, where it depends on which side of McGuinness Blvd you live on. This side, where we use McGolrick Park as a reference point, is beginning to sprout some new and unexpected restaurants.
Open for a few weeks now, if you walk by Selamat Pagi (152 Driggs Ave), the new Balinese restaurant over here, you will notice it’s always hopping from morning until evening.
Aside from introducing far out flavors from the other side of the world to Greenpoint, Selamat Pagi, which means Good-Morning in Balinese, is certainly filling a void for all of us who live near McGolrick Park, who complain about limited food options and sometimes don’t want to venture to the other side.
We had dinner on a Friday night, the second night after the Grand Opening. My friends joked, “So we are going to wait three hours.” We didn’t wait long, but there were a few hiccups that were to be expected, but the friendly service, the new flavors and the short walk home certainly made up for it. I am sure by now they have all the kinks worked out.
Don’t be afraid to order appetizers as the portions for the main courses are not huge, which being a member of the clean plate club is much appreciated.
The waitress recommended we start with the prawn crackers that come with three sambals, or sauces in order to introduce our palates to all the flavors of Balinese cuisine. The Sambal Matah is raw with lemongrass, the Sambal Tomat is made with spicy tomato and last is the Ginger Sambal. Don’t try to pick a favorite, they are all delicious and save some to dip your entrees in.
For a drink I enjoyed a not too sweet Shirley Temple!
We also ordered the tasty Balinese Deviled Eggs, which are sweet with pickled vegetables on top. There are three halves, so it will be hard to be that person who urges your dining partner to take the last one.
My main was the Palm Caramelized Blue Fish with black pepper, turmeric, coriander, sambal tomat, sambal mateh and roti, which is like an Indian soft taco. The fish was sweet and tender and loved to share a plate with the sambals. The roti was on the drier side, but made good dipping in the sambals, too.
We enjoyed not one, not two, not three, but four desserts! Coconut Creme Brulee, a trio of Van Leeuwen Ice Cream, Spicy Bali Chocolate Pot De Creme and a Traditional Balinese Thousand Layer Cake. All perfect.
It wasn’t an inexpensive meal with moderately sized dinner entrees averaging around $16 a plate for authentic home style Balinese cooking, but it was a great dining experience, the interiors are lovely, the staff is great and it’s so conveniently close to home.
Let’s welcome Selamat Pagi to the the other Greenpoint. Aside from dinner, they are open for brunch Tuesday thru Sunday and have delicious coffee and pastries every day.