147 Front Street
Brooklyn, NY 11201
Brooklyn is the land of the gastropub. Just about every neighborhood has one and DUMBO is no different. ReBar is, upon first inspection, everything that a gastropub should be. It has a great bar, a list of over 100 beers, an eclectic menu, a movie theater in the back (they have a "dinner, drinks and a movie" option) and a fantastic space in a loft-cum-antique shoppe setting. But the truth is, the food is, at best hit or miss with an emphasis on miss.
ReBar is cavernous inside, and the vast bar area and twenty foot ceilings don't make it feel any smaller. Old chandeliers, some iron, some brass, some porcelain, all random hang in no discernible pattern over the dining area. Wine for your table arrives in repurposed wine bottles. A massive wrought iron gate divides the room. Raw brick, exposed pipes and wiring, and edison bulbs are everywhere. It's like being in a cross between a catacomb and J.F. Sebastian's house in Blade Runner. And I love it. I walked into the room and just thought it was fantastic.
When the menus arrived, Bro and I found ourselves spending more time wading through the volume of beer options than we did choosing our meal. As I said, the beer list is beyond reproach. Easily a hundred beers occupy an entire menu page in fine-print sized text. Bro picked something local and I went with something Belgian.
In the meantime, what to eat? ReBar has a menu divided into four courses: First course (small), second course (medium), third course (entree), and dessert. You can order anything you want a la carte, or opt for the $45 prix fix plan, which gives you choice from three of the four courses. We both went prix fix; I ordered one course from each of the three main groups, Bro ordered two courses with a dessert.
My first course was the Confit Duck Eggroll. I love duck, so this seemed like a no-brainer. I mean, what's not to like about deep fried shredded duck with a rich pineapple dipping sauce? Well, as fate would have it, quite a bit. The duck was dry and bitter. The egg roll itself was extremely greasy (did they run out of paper towels in the kitchen?) and the dipping sauce was so sweet as to be inedible. Bro and I were basically splitting the dishes and after his one bite, he plopped the remaining roll onto my plate and said "here you go." Very unfortunate. Next, I ordered the Braised Bacon from the second course menu. Three pieces of thick-cut bacon on a cube of falafel under a cucumber cream sauce. The bacon itself was great. Thick, flavorful, not salty, just the right amount of fat. The falafel was an interesting - if a little bit dry - accompaniment and I think I could have worked, but the cucumber sauce was weak and weird. A yogurt sauce or a creamy light horseradish maybe. But there was an unwelcome tang to the cucumber that hung on the roof of my mouth for too long. Bro went with the Grilled Spicy Sausage. This was the best part of the meal so far. Tender, juicy, and hot. And when I say hot, I mean spicy as all hell. So if you're here with a newbie to hot food, they should be forewarned.
With our entrees, Bro ordered the Smoked Leg of Lamb with mashed potato in a port wine reduction. He loved it. The meat was tender, the flavors explosive, the mashed potatoes couldn't have been smoother, and the port sauce was perfectly sweet. It was also huge. It was a Denny's-sized portion that hung off the plate like an oversized flapjack. Bro ate the rest for dinner the next day. My third course was the Coconut Curry Rabbit. A curry-rabbit stew with onions and potato. I wanted so badly to like it. The meat was eat-with-a-spoon tender and who doesn't love rabbit? Unfortunately, the curry sauce was so incredibly salty that I couldn't take it down. I was already pretty full from the previous two courses and couldn't have finished it if I tried, but after two bites I was no longer trying. It got packed in a to-go bag and was donated to mom for her leftover collection the next day.
Finally, Bro's dessert, a chocolate cake with peanut butter frosting, arrived at the table. It was the single largest slice of cake I've seen in my life. In fact, I initially thought that it was a gag. See that sugar packet? The cake is over five inches high and five inches wide. "The great thing about it" our waitress explained "is that it's the perfect size for sharing!" Of course it is. Anyone who eats the whole thing by themselves will go into hyperglycemic shock and have to be carted out on a gurney. That said, it was a delicious cake. The best part of dinner was dessert.
Okay, so I really like ReBar the place and ReBar the bar and ReBar the cake depository. But ReBar the restaurant needs some serious work. I can certainly see myself returning, because to me, atmosphere matters very much, and ReBar has it in spades. But I'll probably go with something simpler and more normal. No more rabbit or duck. I'll get the burger or the mac and cheese; maybe go to one of their dinner and a movie nights. And it'll be cheaper that way, too.
Two prix fix dinners (three small courses, two main courses and a dessert), plus three beers, plus two coffees, plus tax, plus tip totaled $150.
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