298 Bedford Ave
Brooklyn, NY 11211
Cuisine: Oysters, Raw Bar, Seafood
Our Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Cards: Cash Only
Hours: Mon-Fri 4pm-4am; Sat-Sun Noon-4am
Booze: Full Bar
Subway: L to Bedford Ave.
Menu: Click Here
Website: Click Here
A new vintage French Quarter–themed restaurant from the team behind Moto and Five Leaves, Maison Premiere is poised to be Williamsburg’s next bespoke, old-timey (really old-timey—think New Orleans circa 1800) neighborhood favorite. Oysters and classic cocktails are the stars of the show, plus NOLA faves like muffalettes and gumbo. Oh, and an absinthe fountain. The full raw bar will be available until 4 a.m. daily, ensuring a solid late-night crowd. Talk of a giant enclosed garden for warmer months are already circulating.
L Magazine says:
his is New Orleans as channeled through an Anne Rice novel, weathered to the bone and filled with flickering shadows. The French Quarter theme comes from Josh Boissy, the man who also operates nearby French bistro Le Barricou, who enlisted the help of the team behind Moto and Five Leaves to give it that 19th-century sheen. They did not disappoint; the place looks positively ancient, from the creaky wooden floorboards to the ghostly framed portraits and barely glowing Edison bulbs.I first visited only a few weeks after it had opened and already it was crawling with Williamsburg’s beau monde, looking to sin like it was 1899. The Green Fairy makes quite an appearance. Waifish drinkers sat at the long, horseshoe-shaped marble bar that swallows up the middle of the room; behind them was a shiny jade absinthe fountain, a careful reproduction of the one at the Olde Absinthe House on Bourbon Street, complete with a tiny brass Napoleon overlooking the festivities. Out the crisp water drips, carefully diluting the absinthe in a cloud of sugar, the sweet and bitter flavors mingle in a licorice haze. The bar features an absinthe selection that would make de Toulouse-Lautrec proud, around 20 varieties in all, much more than you’ll find anywhere else in the city.
I wasn’t privy to any wormwood-fueled madness from my cushy seat on a back banquette. Instead, the air was thick with jovial, civilized conversation, like everyone was on a collective second date. A few couples definitely were; it’s a good place for romance, especially considering the bar’s other specialty—oysters. Sorry, locavores, most of these bivalves flew long distance, a 2,000 mile journey from the chilly waters of the Pacific Northwest. Maison Premiere is better for it. All apologies to the humble Blue Point (whatever that vague term means now), but British Columbia has Long Island beat by a long-shot. They are quite literally a different breed, deep-shelled and swimming with briny liquor, with majestic names like Stellar Bay and Royal Miyagi. Don’t worry, there are East Coast oysters too. You can get them all for the blissfully low price of $1 during weekdays from 4pm to 7pm. Trust me; I’ve scoured the city looking for the best oyster happy hours and this just might top them all.
I ate mine, appropriately enough, at a tiny table shaped like a heart, washing them down with a cold pint of Captain Lawrence, a break from the bitterness of all the absinthe. Word is that they’ll be opening a back garden come summer; a pile of shells and a wild-eyed buzz among the leafy vines sounds just about perfect. For now, however, sipping in the shadows will have to do.