It’s a good time to visit Williamsburg. The neighborhood is a grand amalgamation of old and new, filled with trendy young adults doing creative new things amongst the grittiness. It’s a fun mix.
As for eating and drinking options, it’s not just about the veggies and PBR (although those can be awesome too). Oh no, Williamsburg is a place where you can get some high-caliber charred meats and top-notch cocktails. It’s not cheap, but it’s definitely cheaper than Manhattan.
Fatty ‘Cue (map!). This restaurant is great. It’s a little bit of a walk from the Bedford Avenue stop (closer if you take the J/M/Z Marcy Ave stop, in the alternative) along some run-down buildings and an overpass, but the only people we ever encountered were well-dressed and riding bicycles. You definitely can’t miss this place.
A Brooklyn spin-off of the restaurant Fatty Crab, Fatty ‘Cue is dimly-lit (with a red tint from a vintage red “exit” sign), cozy (the space is not very big), and a great place for a date. Meanwhile, there’s a good selection of Johnny Cash and Elvis tunes piped in to accompany your meal.
The menu consists of a series of small dish "snacks" and some larger "specialties". We tried the pork loin (kind of like thin sliced meat, great flavor), pork rib (omg giant rib, eat it with your hands), red curry duck (who doesn't love a good duck dish? the amount of spiciness was just right, tempered by slices of daikon with rice), and crab laksa (daily special, noodles in savory broth with crab, shittake mushrooms, ginger, and probably magic).
To finish it off, we got the "Fatty Bar" (dark chocolate with almonds, chili, and sea salt). I love a dessert that has no pretense about what it is or will do to you.
To be clear, Fatty ‘Cue has excellent barbecue, but this is barbecue with sophistication. It’s not the state fair, but you can still expect to get some sauce on your face if you order right.
As a second stop after rolling out, belly full of pork and chocolate, I suggest checking out Dram (map!), just a few blocks away. Located in an unassuming brick building with a warm glow coming out of casement windows, it’s the perfect place to escape the cold in this season and feel fancy (but not too fancy, we are in Brooklyn, of course).
The menu has a nice selection of beers and wines (oh boy, how did I miss this…the online menu says they have Porterhouse Oyster Stout? I envision a repeat visit in the very near future…), but the main attraction is of course their cocktails, mixed by gentlemen who take their craft very seriously. I saw one of them practically sculpting the top foam on one of his creations, it was like surface tension art. And they are all, be still my heart, $9. What a nice change of pace from the $14 prices across the bridge, and at no less quality in my opinion.
We tried the Behind God’s Back (Chairman’s Reserve Rum, Fresh Pineapple, Lime, Orgeat, Cane Syrup, Bitters Float):
And the Kilted Bastard (Jamaican Rum, Famous Grouse Scotch, Grapefruit, Lemon, Absinthe, Housemade Orgeat, Frank’s Mix):
The patrons were a cheerful crowd and everyone looked quite relaxed, happy to meet up with their friends. Our waitress was very polite and attentive as well. And I must mention that you bolt the restroom door with a wooden spoon. Really. The entire bar has a very natural wood decor, so this little detail was the perfect touch. Good job, Dram.
Williamsburg: when you want a nice little not-Manhattan evening.