Such was the case when we stopped into the two-month-old Skytown on Friday night. Run by Smorgasburg heroes Ian Cronin and Sabra Saperstein, this Bushwick eatery is their first brick-and-mortar establishment. But, instead of their Italian tuna sandwich or their Skybowl, a do-it-yourself mixture of daily sautéed greens, beans, grain, cheese, or fried egg, they had a special, three-item menu, which the bartender/server handed to us with apology.
Given the choices of roasted fingerling potatoes with chipotle yogurt, kielbasa on a roll with red cabbage sauerkraut, and delicata squash with jewel beets, purple carrots, kale and goat cheese, well, we opted for one of each. Next, we ordered drinks, but unfortunately, they were out our first two desires, wine (no delivery) and Shock Top beer. That left us with hard liquor and a jumbled, hand-written drink menu to decipher. But, once we figured out that most drinks ran about $6 a drink, suddenly it didn’t matter that we could barely read the chalkboard.
Located in what used to be another location of Beauty Bar and before that, a burger joint called the Black Bean Grill, Skytown is on the border of Bed-Stuy and Bushwick right under the elevated train tracks. This means despite the already loud music pouring out of the stereo, every time a train goes by the noise escalates for a second. Not that this appears to bother the patrons, a quarter of whom sat across from a glowing blue screen typing away at what could only be the next great American novel.
Speaking of books, another service Skytown offers is their in house library sprouting up from various spaces like literary flowerbeds. Next to our table and against the exposed brick wall was a line of books including Knut Hamsun's Hunger, Omnivores Dilemma by Michael Pollan, and Marisha Pessl’s coming of age novel Special Topics in Calamity Physics. You can’t take them out of the joint, but you can read them over a cup of coffee, when they have it, or a plate of rosemary-rich roasted fingerling potatoes.
This cues the arrival of food, along with yet another apology from the over-worked Don, who appeared to be the only one running the joint save for a solo cook in the tiny, makeshift kitchen. Gratefully, we dug into the steaming plates of food before us, all of which comes out of a tiny, portable oven and a couple of hot plates in the back. Oh yes, this whole concept stemmed from a food stand at a market, it made perfect sense.
In fact, all of Skytown made sense for what it is, where it’s located, and what they are trying to do, which is make cheap food and drink, and bring like-minded people over to their house, which just happens to also be a restaurant.
Skytown: 921 Broadway, Brooklyn, New York; 347-921-2911