We don’t know about you, but we tend to get into dining and drinking ruts. (Sometimes it’s hard to leave the neighborhood.) Here are a few of Brooklyn’s newest bars and restaurants, to shake up your routine.
Thistle Hill Tavern A new(ish) addition to the Slope dining scene, Thistle Hill has a warmly casual dining room, sidewalk seating and your perfect summer menu. A recent special combined creamy burrata cheese and grilled peaches, and the entrees tend toward the light yet flavorful. Our grilled octopus came with several meaty, but still tender legs over a bed of warm romaine, and our server told us that the sea bass special that evening had been caught that morning. 441 7th Avenue, Park Slope 347-599-1262
M. Wells We’re officially annexing Long Island City as the Alaska of Brooklyn, especially with the addition of M. Wells’ breakfast. Menu standouts include a Spanish-style tortilla and hashbrowns (shredded, not cubed), with greens, bacon and a poached egg. The sausage sandwich comes with house-pickled jalapenos and is good enough to be habit-forming. They’ll add lunch service later this week, and are waiting on a liquor license to open for diner. Chef Hugue Dufour most recently cooked at Au Pied du Cochon in Montreal, so we’re hoping the soon-to-be expanded menu veers in an adventurous direction. 21-17 49th Avenue, Long Island City, Queens, 718-425-6917
Dino With its crostini, pasta, and kid-friendly atmosphere, Dino (pictured above) in Fort Greene is posed to become a neighborhood staple. The kale ceasar salad is one of the best versions of the classic we’ve tried in some time and the grapefruit negroni we ordered was a new favorite cocktail. The backyard is sweet, too. 222 Dekalb Avenue, Fort Greene, 718-222-1999
Hot Bird We’re loving the whole auto shop-turned-bar trend that Mission Dolores Franklin Park started (and Mission Dolores helped popularize). But Hot Bird is the best transformation yet. The former garage at the corner of Clinton and Atlantic Ave. takes its name from those old Hot Bird signs that boast “Best Bar-B-Q in New York.” As far as we know, no one has tracked down the original owner of Hot Bird–it’s just one of those pre-gentrified Brooklyn mysteries, and Frank Moe’s bar pays great homage to the past. His spectacularly gritty, retro renovation is filled with cool details, like vintage wooden tool handles for beer taps, and coasters made for design geeks. Outside, there’s a big ol’ patio where Alan Harding’s food truck will soon be parked. We hear he should get his final permit approved today, meaning there may be brats and tacos by the weekend, maybe even a Hot Bird or two. 546 Clinton Avenue, Clinton Hill, 718-230-5800
Lady Jay If you like a man with a plaid button-down, multiple tattoos and a dog, head straight to Lady Jay and find a regular seat at the bar. Even if you’re not on the prowl, Lady Jay is pleasing in its simplicity: big backyard, good selection of beers on tap, and real liquor without the seemingly requisite menu of house-specialty cocktails. This is a place where you can get a Campari and gin without a $12 price tag and your date can down an icy can of $4 beer. Owner Sam Mason seems to have gone in the entirely other direction from Tailor, his now closed fancy cocktail joint in SoHo and it’s a welcome change, if you ask us. 633 Grand St., Williamsburg, 718-387-1029
Custom American Wine Bar It took this place (pictured above, as the backdrop for a glass of Joel Gott sauvignon blanc) a lot of wrangling with Community Board 1 to get a liquor license, but it’s so mellow it’s hard to see what all the fuss was about. The wine list is all-American with lots of New York State options. The menu is organized regionally, with cheese fries representing the Midwest, a cobb salad for the West Coast and the Elvis–a fired peanut butter, banana and bacon sandwich–holding forth for the South. One quibble — not enough rose on the menu for our summer drinking needs. 644 Driggs Avenue, Williamsburg, 718-387-9463
Loreley Lodged in a former gas station under the BQE Loreley Williamsburg packs the same German punch as its sister on the Lower East Side. Though there’s a full bar and wine, imported beers such as the Jever Pilsner and Spaten Lager, as well as Kolsch, Cologne’s local favorite, are really the stars of the show here. While there’s plenty of pretzel, bratwurst, and Spatzle to go around (and for decent prices, too), the menu includes something unusual for a German beer hall: salads. Naturally, the salads themselves are German, like the Wurstsalat (adorned with “zesty” sausage and pickles), which pairs nicely with a $4 bowl of tomatensuppe. Best of all, there’s a roomy outdoor area with rows of picnic tables sheltered by wide umbrellas, so you can enjoy a frosty stein and a mustardy pretzel al fresco. 64 Frost Street (corner of Meeker and Frost, on the west side of the BQE), Greenpoint/Williamsburg, 718-599-0025
By Annaliese, Nicole and Claire Jeffers, sent by Nicole. Photos courtesy of Brooklyn Based.