160 Franklin St
Brooklyn, NY 11222
Our Rating: ★ ★ ★
Cards: All major
Hours: Mon-Thurs 11am-5pm Lunch, 6pm-11pm Dinner; Sat-Sun 10am-5pm Brunch, 6pm-Midnight Dinner
Booze: Full bar
Subway: G to Greenpoint Ave.
Menu: Click Here
Blackbook Mag says:
We’ve been tailing Brooklyn-based chef Jonathan Meyer ever since he formidably combined the beer garden and banh mi crazes (remember those?) last summer at t.b.d. In the winter, he surfaced the Greenpoint Coffee House, where he introduced us to a top-notch burger and some of the best fried chicken we’ve had. The place was doing solid business, and it looked like Meyer and his partner Will Griffin, both 25, had found a permanent home. Not quite. In late 2009, the chefs learned the lease would not be renewed, and they’d have to relocate once again. Then in walked Lisa Kim.
Mrs. Kim the owner of the River Barrel, a small, sunny restaurant four blocks south of GPHC, had just lost her chef. She approached Meyer and Griffin and suggested the two continue to cook their same style of market-driven American food in her kitchen. But after surveying the menu, Meyer and Griffin realized they had an opportunity to try something else altogether. While searching for someone to helm her kitchen, Kim cooked the Korean dishes of her youth as specials. Meyer—who’s had experience preparing asian at Fatty Crab—and Griffin were immediately inspired. Under the tutelage of Mrs. Kim, an accomplished home cook, the menu was revamped as an ode to classic Korean dishes, and the River Barrel became Mrs. Kim’s, Greenpoint’s only Korean restaurant. The incognito transformation (the restaurant’s rustic decor remains unchanged) has both surprised and delighted locals who came expecting the Barrel’s American fare.
Greenpoint News says:
When River Barrel, located at 160 Franklin Street, lost its second chef at the beginning of the year, Lisa Kim, the restaurant’s owner (along with her husband Yeong Kim), started serving Korean dishes from her personal repertoire as specials. Now, the couple—longtime Greenpointers themselves—are making her specialties the main event. The restaurant has new chefs, a new, Korean-inspired menu, and a new name: Mrs. Kim’s.
The Kims opened River Barrel in January 2009. In early February of this year, they brought over Jonathan Meyer, 25 and Will Griffin, 25, from the recently closed Greenpoint Coffeehouse just down the street to be their new Co-Head Chefs (some wait staff and line cooks also came along). They had asked Meyer and Griffin to re-vamp their current menu, which had a somewhat unfocused and eclectic fare, and to create a more traditional, American-European menu. The chefs protested, and so did the rest of the River Barrel staff—they wanted more Korean food, and they had the feeling that the neighborhood did too.
Over the period of a few weeks, Mr. and Mrs. Kim prepared dishes for Meyer and Griffin, and they worked to create a new menu inspired by traditional Korean dishes—bibimbop, fried chicken, doejang ribs, hangover stew—but not tethered to their predecessors.
The new menu is a far more focused one that highlights Korean dishes but experiments with more complex cooking techniques and incorporates other flavors and influences. One starter, Radishes + Kimchi Butter, features Mrs. Kim’s Napa cabbage kimchi folded into butter and spread on a baguette with daikon kimchi, radish greens, and Spanish white anchovies cured in white vinegar and olive oil. While the bibimbop, a rice and vegetable staple dish, is getting a twist in the form of a 45-minute slow-poached egg and unique seasonal vegetables like asparagus and snow peas.
Brunch lovers have no need to worry: in addition to pork buns, Korean hot dogs, and kimchi platters, the brunch menu still has the classics from Greenpoint Coffeehouse like eggs benedict and french toast, and a hamburger—not to mention a killer bloody mary. And, like at the Coffeehouse, Meyer and Griffin continue to work with local farmers, some of whom have offered to start planting more Asian and Korean produce especially for the restaurant.