With the ongoing pandemic’s impact of dining slowly diminishing, the number of new restaurant and bar concepts can sometimes feel like it’s skyrocketing, so here’s a report on some of the latest places that have come to our attention.
The Drunk Crab
It was a rainy, Thursday night on Forest Avenue when a shuttered party supply store (RIP H & A Party Place!) went the way of the neighborhood and became another restaurant: a patio-fronted affair called the Drunk Crab, where yes there is a cartoon of the joyful creature, waddling around dangerously, suds in hand. Gentrification-watchers will be pleased to discover little in common between the EDM-lite and laminated-menus over here and, say, the handsome village of newish Kermit Westergaard-designed properties across the street. This is old fashioned, unpretentious fun: the brochetas go for $7 a stick but, for $150, you can also get a lobster-fronted meal fit for four. The ideas come from a chef named Jean Piere who, according to their website, is “inspired by the traditional cuisine of Louisiana” and likes to give it “an Ecuadorian touch.”
The Drunk Crab is located at 68-17 Forest Avenue.
Every so often, it seems like the place that was once the cafe in Trans Pecos becomes something else. Once, for instance, it was a vegan popup that sold seitan sandwiches. This time, it’s a bahi mi joint called Nhà Minh, which used to be in Williamsburg, but soft-opened its new home on Wyckoff Avenue back in April where the bright yellow exterior manages to make the auto dumps across the street look a little bit more like they belong on Bedford Avenue. Lovers of seafood in sandwich form will find lots to discover, including bahi mis filled with smoked trout, grilled shrimp and the ‘catch of the day,’ in addition to more traditional offerings.
Nhà Minh is located at 9-15 Wyckoff Avenue.
On the corner of Decatur and Knickerbocker, you’ll find a new all-vegan cafe that opened to great fanfare last month: Carolina Hernandez’s Tikal Café. But don’t take my word for it, take the testimony of our own Jackson Schroeder, who called it “an affordable and luxurious spot for locals to grab a fresh coffee and a delicious, healthy meal.”
Tikal Café is located at 1312 Decatur Street.
Here’s a hot tip with some backstory: Andrew DellaPietra has been running a colorful dental practice for some time on the corner of Knickerbocker Avenue and Maria Hernandez Park, where he’s known to attentive locals for his taste in elaborate seasonal window displays. Unrelatedly, the corner was also known for a beloved pupuseria called Amanda’s Kitchen, once home to some of the most authentic Salvadorian fare in the borough. That’s gone now, but DellaPietra is hoping to revive the space with cuisine of his own: all-vegan ‘fast food’: burgers, hot dogs, ‘chicken’ nuggets and tenders. “Better for people, the planet, and the animals!,” DellaPietra says on his instagram, which is largely dedicated to the vegan cause.
Grilled is located at 264 Suydam Street.
Another restaurant that disappeared amid the ongoing pandemic was the Houdini Pizza Laboratory, a fancy pizzeria that put Ridgewood on the Michelin map a little under a decade ago. Now there’s a new pizzara at the same address where that was, a somewhat mysterious and well-funded operation called Pàn, which has adorned the corner with vague Gabo-like ads while opening for business on the intermittent weekend. While the website for Pàn does not appear to be up and running just yet, the corner of Wyckoff and Decatur has nonetheless been buzzing with these lively crowds, dancing to ‘00s rock music and joyously consuming brick-oven baked pizza styled ostensibly in the fashion of the space’s former occupants or maybe Roberta’s or maybe Ops. According to the menu, the margherita pie is currently going for $10 and another one, with monkfish on it, is going for $16. And of course, there’s a truffle pie too: it’ll cost you $15.
Pàn is located at 1563 Decatur street.
Speaking of places taking the place of places, the bar formerly known as Ildewild and also formerly known as the Bodega is now a different bar called Little Beaver. Like Colson Whitehead once said, it’s still here because you are here. It’s just another dive bar. This one appears to have mezcal negronis, however.
Little Beaver is located at 24 St Nicholas Avenue.
Bushwick Burger Co.
Formerly a Dominican restaurant called El Pilon, the corner near Irving Square Park is now occupied by a pragmatically named burger restaurant. At Bushwick Burger, the titular burger comes in deluxe form for $9, where it comes with grilled pineapple. Other menu offerings include its vegan impossible-brand alternative and “local home made bagels,” which are $2.50 each.
Bushwick Burger Co. is located at 354 Cornelia Street.
After their elaborate bar-slash-slighty-hidden-Japanese-restaurant in Fort Greene secured an affirming write-up from Pete Wells (“the terrific assortment of pickled daikon work best as punctuation marks between sips of cocktails”), Danny Minch and Dylan Dodd made it to the fringes of East Williamsburg for their next adventure: a bar that’s also a restaurant, but sans speakeasy shenanigans. Nite Nite takes the place of a newish Greek restaurant that had been there called Apollonia, whose memory, the pair told Eater, they will honor by also operating a coffee shop called Apo, which, like a beloved pet, has its own instagram page. What everyone’s talking about at Nite Nite are the oysters, which can be bought for $1 each during happy hour (4:30-7pm.)
Nite Nite is located at 128 Meserole Street.
Instead of combining cocktails and seafood, Nook combines coffee and craft beer. Online, they label this approach “experimental,” like a modernist novel or a John Cage record. According to one of their recent menu boards, the craft beers include a handful of selections from local brewer Kings County Brewers Collective and those go for between $8-10 a glass.
Nook is located at 45 Irving Avenue.
Do you have a suggestion for “Openings”? Let me know at [email protected].
Top image photo credit: Andrew Karpan.
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