closed late last year, it left a hole-in-the-wall-sized void in Fort Greene’s restaurant scene. Now, at last, that’s filled with tonight’s opening of Lulu & Po in the space previously occupied by the neighbor favorite.
The old Abistro has been thoroughly transformed with a small, full bar, glistening white tiles and beautiful pine-wood-panelling on the walls, bright red chairs and handsome pews and a gray cement wall festooned with a rooster mural. The remodel hasn’t robbed the space of its charm though. The Lulu and Po of the restaurant’s name refer to chef/owner Matthew Hamilton’s young daughter, Lucy, and wife, Po Kutchins. At a soft opening over the weekend, eight-year-old Lulu celebrated her birthday with a plateful of cookies and frolicked about with her Barbie, while mom chatted with diners about her issues with the divisive doll.
Patrons got to sample some of the restaurant’s simple, well-prepared, Mediterranean-inspired small plates like a grilled octopus with cilantro, jalapeño sauce ($12) and fresh avocados with Spanish oil and smoked salt ($7). Other small plates include delicately fried anchovies with sriracha tartar sauce ($9) and calves liver crostini with juniper butter and red onions ($8). There are just a few medium plates, including seared fluke with tomatoes, guanciale, and parmesan ($18) and a grilled hanger steak with chimichurri ($17), on offer. General Manager Gerrett White, who like Hamilton is an alum of the East Village’s Belcourt, says the menu will change several times throughout the week but there will be a few permanent items.
Like the food offerings, the drinks menu features just a few choice offerings that will change often. A handful of well-done classic cocktails, some with twists, like a Rum Negroni ($10) and The Carlton ($12) - a mix of gin and Boissiere dry vermouth with splash of absinthe and bitters - are featured and there’s just a single beer selection, Narragansett Lager ($5) at present. White, who’s also heading up the bar, says the wine selection will focus on Old World offerings. It’s a long way from the old Abistro and its BYOB glory days, but with its chic interior, skillfully mixed drinks, and tender, perfectly charred octopus, Lulu & Po seems poised for good times all its own (154 Carlton Avenue, Brooklyn; 917-435-3745).