10/02/2012 11:34:00 AM

First Bite: Dear Bushwick Brings British Style to Brooklyn

Locating Dear Bushwick among the taco shops, bodegas, and random residential units on Wilson Avenue isn’t that easy, unless you know to look for the brown horse head mounted high above the door. Last Saturday, the pony’s face gave us pause while we searched out a sign for the new Brit-meets-Brooklyn restaurant. Luckily, owner Julian Mohamed wandered outside to greet us, and, under a reserved British chuckle, he voiced his hopes that the head will become a recognizable symbol of the restaurant.

Inside, the horse theme carried on with a framed stallion here, and a statue of a mare there. Beyond the gelding paraphernalia, the quaint eatery displayed all sorts of knickknacks, from dangling birdcage lights, to marionettes seated over the kitchen, to the bathroom that was wallpapered in vintage nudie photos from the infamous Page Three of the Sun, a British tabloid. The overall eating space is cozy and seats around 20 people for dining, with a handful of stools at the bar. Along the wall, they have added a wainscoting made from window shutters, which caps off the restaurant’s do-it-yourself vibe (which has become so prevalent in Brooklyn these days).

Look for the horse head! 
The scenery remains cool and relaxed, but the food and beverage offerings reflect a stuffier culture, with reinvented British classics by chef Jessica Wilson and some potent tipples made with English spirits. If the Queen were in the house, we think she’d be partial to one of the carefully crafted cocktails like the Iron Lady, which, though it’s not as strong as its namesake, is a well put together blend of rose infused Junipero Gin, Lillet Rose, Aperol, and lemon juice. They also offer their English version of the Sazerac, which uses a blended scotch, Manzanilla sherry, and St. Germain; and the Dear Pimms Cup - it’s like the classic drink, but with strawberry balsamic shrub in the mix.

The food also proves creative in its push to meld fresh, New York ingredients with British recipes. The LPB&J is a cross between your kid’s lunch box and a tea sandwich, though with liver pate, bacon, and orange marmalade you wouldn’t want to serve it for either. An English pasty with apple cheddar and turnips sings to the season, while the house-made cheese curds seem a little more universal. Other menu options include a vegetarian bread and butter pudding with roasted eggplant, tomatoes and mushrooms; a bright salad of tomatoes and peach (though they could have given us more than one small sliver of the luscious stone fruit); pork belly in garlic clam sauce; and naturally, sausage - though this one is made with beer, herbs and pork.

For dessert they pickings are slim, and they have yet to start a coffee program though that is in the works. Since plums proved so prevalent in the main dishes, we skipped the blackberries and plums with spiced cream and instead decided on the chocolate stout pudding and a glass of Red Newt dry rose. By the time the bill came we were satisfied to have occupied Dear Bushwick, though a little shocked how a quite night in Brooklyn came with a $120 tab. We were just glad that was in dollars and not pounds.

The Details: 41 Wilson Ave., Brooklyn, New York; 949-234-2344


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