253 Grand @ Roebling, Williamsburg
SL and I had been a bit cranky with each other this week, so we decided to have a date on Friday night, consisting of dinner and a rock show on campus. There's been lots of new places opening up in the Williamsburg, so many I barely can keep track, but a blurb on Walter Foods had stuck the place in my brain as a good new option.
Going out on a Friday night at 8:30 without a reservation was probably going to be tough, but when we showed up, the friendly hostess told us it would be 30 minutes or so. That seemed okay since the Kills weren't due to start until 10:45, so we went across the street to Clem's for a drink. Twenty minutes later, we were back and standing outside on the street, trying to glare through the big windows at those seated inside, in hopes of inspiring them to eat fast. We didn't mind being outside: it was way too crowded around the bar for giant people like us, was a nice night, and we ran into a few people we knew while waiting on Grand Street.
As it started to become more like an hour wait, the hostess came out three different times to tell us what was going on, and inform us that we were the very next table of two to be seated (two tables decided not to leave after eating and had instead joined together for drinks -- which, as an aside, is a pretty rude move when people are obviously waiting to be seated. Let the restaurant turn the tables and go to a bar! There's only about 15 on Grand Street, after all.) She was charming and good humored while being slammed on their first full Friday night. Impressive how she kept her cool, without even a hint of the irritation you can get from a lot of staff in North Brooklyn.
We sat at about 9:35 and almost the first thing that happens is that the owner Danny, who we had met briefly outside through some mutual friends, comes by with three glasses of comped bubbly to thank us for waiting. We tell him we are only two, but he says no matter and leaves us all three glasses. Classy move. Thanks, Danny! The interior has the same vibe as Marlow and Sons or Cafe Moto -- sort of clean vintagey gastropub with old photos, mirrors, shiny tiles, previously used doors and other fixtures. I love it. We order an Old-Fashioned (my favorite) and a Manhattan from an fantastic classic cocktail menu. And they come fast, with those big square ice cubes that don't melt instantly and ruin your drink.
The menu is American bistro, with a lot of seafood options including oysters from the raw bar, and lobster shows up solo as well as in several dishes. Otherwise: fried chicken, steak, pork chops, hamburger, surf and turf, salads. We had pigs in a blanket (sausage in pastry dough with red pepper sauce. Wished for some mustard) and the poached lobster salad for appetizers. Both are tasty. Then: pork chops that came with delicious butter-soaked brussel sprouts and apple compote, and the pepper-incrusted filet mignon served with garlicy smashed potatoes. No exaggeration, the meat cuts were about an inch thick. Very, very generous cuts of meat for the price, and perfectly cooked. There are no overcooked meats coming out of this kitchen - medium rare was even on the rare side.
We were so stuffed by the end, we couldn't even finish the entrees and brought some leftovers home with us. Overall cost was about $50 per person. Great meal, great staff, nice vibe inside, even on a Friday night packed with the fancy types: we will definitely be back.