253 Grand St
Brooklyn, NY 11211
Cuisine: Seafood/Raw Bar
Our Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ Great
Cards: All Major
Price: Entrees $16-$25
Hours: Mon-Thu, noon-1am; Fri, noon-2am; Sat, 10:30am-2am; Sun, 10:30am-1am
Booze: Full Bar
Subway: L to Bedford Ave., J,M,Z to Marcy Ave.
NY Mag says:
Barrio Chino owner Dylan Dodd and former Balthazar bartender Danny Minch opened this Grand Street bistro and raw bar where bow-tied waiters present stiff cocktails and sturdy American dinner fare. Pale cream walls are scattered with the occasional black & white photograph of burly fishermen or wooden sail boats. Dark wood booths and a restored vintage bar compound a somewhat over-calculated atmosphere, though the new-olde look hasn’t stopped local scensters from thronging the bar on weekends in search of gimlets or dark n’ stormies. Thankfully, it’s not all preening at Walter Foods. Dinner more or less delivers, with nostalgic appetizers like pigs in blankets and substantial mains including a 1 1/2 pound lobster and respectable Filet mignon with show-stopping crushed potatoes. A smattering of more strong sides—the roasted Brussels sprouts and beer-battered onion rings in particular—round out the experience. Be prepared to settle in with your drink and wait for a table during the dinner crunch, or stop by at around 11. Like the neighborhood, this restaurant stays up late.
The New Yorker says:
Gone are the days when Williamsburg was defined by cheap, funky places like Oznot’s Dish and Planet Thailand. As the Zeitgeist caught up with itself, waterfront glass towers were erected, artists were priced out of the neighborhood, and dressed-up joints like Dressler and DuMont, Hotel Delmano, and Marlow & Sons moved in. (This wasn’t a bad thing, culinarily speaking, but it was more expensive.) And thus a couple of Manhattanites, Dylan Dodd (of Barrio Chino) and Danny Minch (a former Balthazar bartender), opened Walter Foods, part bistro, part old-school chophouse.
At the handsome bar, cordial gentlemen dole out an eclectic list of well-crafted classics such as the tropical cliché the Singapore Sling—a mix of gin, pineapple, and Luxardo, a maraschino liqueur—and a bourbon-heavy mint julep, just right. The bar is a fine place for a clever appetizer, like the pig in a blanket (chorizo wrapped in pastry) or the spot-on buffalo lollipop chicken wings. The dining-room ambience is pure New England, with its dark wood-beamed ceiling, antiquey prints of fishermen, and leather-cushioned booths, and the waiters, in their starched white aprons and bow ties, convey an air of formality that is propagated by the menu of the chef, Justin Ernsberger (Clinton Street Baking Company). One night, the raw bar offered pristine Beau Soleil, Hama Hama, Malpeque, and Blue Point oysters, king crab, and plump shrimp cocktail. But the clam chowder had a wan broth of buttered milk, and the blackened shrimp was oversalted. Lobster salad was luscious with avocado and hearts of palm but swimming in dressing, albeit a light, citrusy vinaigrette. The fried chicken, served with an addictive honey-chile dipping sauce, was too dark—“truculent, not succulent,” said one diner—but a perfectly seared salmon fillet with French lentils and beurre blanc solved the mystery of why such a banal-sounding dish was on the specials board. The burger was distractingly smoky, inside an insufficient bun, but the filet mignon, with a decadent peppercorn-cream sauce, was charred to such perfection that it seemed to challenge Peter Luger, not far away, to a steak throwdown.
In spite of all the stiff-fronted decorum, the erstwhile Billyburg ethos seems to thrive. Amidst a dull Saturday-night roar, the urbane servers had, at times, an air of bewilderment; the clientele favored beards, T-shirts and jeans, tattoo sleeves. A young couple sat at the bar feeding each other: on one plate, the French dip ($18), on the other, surf and turf ($44). (Open daily for dinner and on Saturdays and Sundays for brunch. Entrées from $13 to $44.)