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The Commodore is the place to go when you’re itching for a campy frozen drink, in a retro setting, with some damn good food to boot. The dive feels like a bar you’d find in Milwaukee in the 70s and once you order a Frozen Pina Colada with Ameretto Float you’ll be transported to that very era. People love The Commodore for its Chicken Sandwich – and with good reason since its made by the same people responsible for Pies n’ Thighs. The menu also features nachos, a burger, and many more artery-clogging delicacies. It’s a great bar so, sure, it gets crowded, but don’t let that keep you away.
It “looks and acts like a dive bar”, but this Williamsburg standby houses “some of the finest fried chicken and biscuits” going, along with other “revisited” Southern fare and “fabulous cocktails”; its “’70s den” look-alike digs are predictably “packed on weekends”, and the “order-your-food-at-the-bar system isn’t ideal”, but “super-cheap” tabs and an overall “chill vibe” go a long way.
First came the gastropub, an import from Britain featuring upmarket pub grub in an ale-drinking setting. Now, welcome the gastrodive, which further blurs the lines between restaurant and bar. The Commodore in Williamsburg, with its old arcade games, Schlitz in a can and stereo pumping out the Knight Rider theme song, offers the city’s best cheap-ass bar eats, served in a seedy venue where folks come to get blotto. The short menu—with descriptions as curt as the service you’ll encounter while ordering your food from the bartender—reads like a classic collection of fryolator junk. But the “hot fish” sandwich, for one, is a fresh, flaky, cayenne-rubbed catfish fillet poking out of both sides of a butter-griddled sesame-seed roll
The food is the work of Stephen Tanner, a native of Albany, Ga., who spent much of the last decade working in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, restaurants known for straightforward fare and strong flavors: Diner, Egg, Pies ‘n’ Thighs. Mr. Tanner is talented, but the food at the Commodore shouldn’t be cross-examined too closely. It’s mostly fried, or in a bun, or both. Ingredients are repeated. So are seasonings. So what? The Dead Kennedys never needed more than three chords.
In case you aren’t already familiar, The Commodore is a Williamsburg restaurant by Pies ‘n’ Thighs alum Stephen Tanner, and it’s bad for you. Bad because merely looking at the food here will jack up your cholesterol thirty points, and worse because everything is so good that you’ll crave it all the time. Eventually you too will be cutting imaginary deals with your organs to justify frequent visits.