Step into this boxing gym, turned furniture store, turned bar on the corner of Graham Ave and Johnson St. and prepare to be hit with a one-two punch of high style and local atmosphere. Sweet Science, an alternate term for the sport of boxing, has high-end swag with reasonable prices; inviting it’s customers with the promise of a food and drink menu suited to an evening of conversation. Drop in solo or in a group and you won’t miss James Freeman, the smiling co-owner who will pull you into whatever conversation is going around at the bar.
Finally making moves toward his dream– a bar of his own, James found the empty furniture shop and described it as “that feeling of your first love.” The original glass has been repurposed to showcase the building’s distressed walls, a look that he describes as the “slit in a dress that show’s a woman’s thigh.” Glass dividers section the space into three parts; a quiet dining area perfect for first dates, a bar chocked full of laughs and new faces, and a lounge that brings its own VIP vibe. Designed by the other half of Sweet Science, Mattie Matthew, the space has all the flash that you expect from New York but still carries that Cheers factor “where everybody knows your name.” James describes it as a “theater” for stories and good times. With DJs present on the scene Thursday through Saturday, and Sunday for brunch, the atmosphere will keep you floating like a butterfly.
Freeman describes the beer list as “session” beers, or the kind that you can drink all night while avoiding a TKO. The food is the brain child of Brian Perry (of Ill Passaore, The Graham, and Ai Di La) who brings a smoke house menu to jab at your taste buds. For a starter I bit into the Butternut Squash Salad ($7) with balsamic, spinach, gorganzola cheese, and had all the fun of carbs in the healthy appetizer of a salad.
But alas, when drinking the night away we all need something fried, and for that they bring out Fried Pickles ($6) in a Brooklyn brine and Guinness beer batter that are crispy, sour, and a perfect finger food for sharing. Next they suggested a Chicken Quesadilla ($9), which has hard competition here on Graham Ave. The portions were hearty, the chicken soft and juicy, and well, who doesn’t love a quesadilla?
Enough with the lightweights, lets get to the title card- Ribs ($16)! Talk about shiny, these things were glistening. Each piece fell perfectly off the bone and black cherry sweet and sour glaze kept me busy blissfully licking my fingers.
If pig’s not your poison they can also whip up a Hangar Steak over potatoes that is a classic mark as well as Catfish cooked on birch wood with a corn/black-eyed pea salad – a pugilist’s protein heaven.
There are also vegetarian alternatives that I did not sample, but looked equally scrumtrulescent. All of this wonderful food pairs perfectly with their wide selection of liquor, well thought out mixed drinks, and cold beer (they even have cider on tap), so it’s easy to spend a night here amongst local neighborhood faces as well those out-of-borough folk . But long nights like that often hit hard in the morning, and Sweet Science has their cure . The Biggie Breakfast, a 16oz “t-bone steak, cheese eggs and Welch’s grape” Bellini that’s certainly a different type of medicine, but I’ll be damned if ain’t effective.
After sampling all of this delicious food, Bushwick Daily was privy to some inside information that new cools things are continuing to happen at Sweet Science, so stay tuned for updates!
Whether you’re looking for conversation and a beer, a date night, or a place to host a party, stop by Sweet Science and say hi to James, he’s sure to say hi back.
Disclaimer: Food was provided courtesy of Sweet Science to the author of this article.