Are you sick of hipsters? Don’t get me wrong, I love Williamsburg and what they’ve done to the place. But I’m a die-hard born n’raised New Yorker who misses the old days before the neighborhoods were killed by gentrification.
Thankfully that hasn’t yet happened in Bed-Stuy. No, it’s not dangerous as some people may still say, it just hasn’t been hipsterized yet. My girlfriend and I were lucky enough to be invited to check out Alice’s Arbor, a local hotspot by veteran restaurateur Dimitri Vlahakis.
Serving authentic, seasonal, flavorful American dishes with an emphasis on farm-to-table fare, Alice’s Arbor is an association of three people who met 15 years ago in the Lower East side. Head Chef Mike Franzetti was a neighbor when Stephan Gerville and Dimitri opened Baraza and Esperanto in the East Village. Dimitri then went on to open the popular Motorino, Summit Bar, and the Bowery Diner.
The warm and rustic decor of the restaurant is created with reclaimed materials throughout, with vintage barn and pallet wood. The paneled repurposed wood doors, driftwood branch light fixtures (gorgeous!), and hanging mobiles scrounged from the Ashokan Reservoir in Upstate New York create a uniquely comfortable aesthetic. Outside, the sidewalk seating feels like a front porch in the country.
We started with some wine on tap – yes, I said Wine On TAP? No, I’d never heard of this either, so we had to try it. The rosé Domaine de la Patience from France’s Costières de Nîmes was very good, as was the more deeper and full-bodied Estézargues Rhône blend. I was once a poor college student like the rest of you and know all too well about the plethora of cheap box wines which I partied with on far too many occasions. But this wine on tap was damn good!
The practice of serving wine from a keg or cask has long been a tradition in Europe. Think about the reduction in cost to the winery: no more corks, bottles, and packing materials as well as the reduction in restaurant waste, no longer needing to recycle or throw away all the excess materials. The cost savings is then, hopefully, passed on to us.
Moving along to some appetizers, we headed for the sea, ordering their Oyster of the Day, Steamed Mussels, and Seared Scallops. All three were delicious, but the scallops with crispy oyster mushrooms, white beans, and Romesco sauce were the clear winners.
Coming ashore we got the Pork Chop and highly recommended Mac & Cheese. So tasty even Kermit would like it, my girlfriend loved the chops, mixed with crispy potatoes, squash, and a special mustard sauce. The mac & cheese was excellent too, rich with a blend of cheddar and goat cheese béchamel, definitely worth the trip to Bed-Stuy just for it alone. Make sure you order it with truffle oil and jalapeños. Oh, and the jalapeños are pickled and pack a wallop! For some greens we had the Kale Salad, with roasted almonds, apples, avocado, pomegranate, and pecorino. Yum, Yum, YUM!!
Giving our expanding bellies a rest, we headed for some cocktails, ordering the Neugroni (Glorious Gin: Oaked, Atsby’s Amberthorn, Avèze Gentian liqueur, with a lemon twist) and Harvest BK (Black Dirt Apple Jack, St. George Spiced Pear liqueur, Clément Créole Shrubb, and Angostura). The Harvest BK was a bit strong for my taste, but the Neugroni was PERfect!
No meal is truly complete without dessert, so we finished off with the appropriately named Mikes Grandma’s Cheesecake and a heaping piece of Apple Crisp. I’ve never met a cheesecake I didn’t like, and this was no exception, but the Apple Crisp was simply AMAZING. Hats off to the trees that grew these winners and the chef who cooked them.
We truly enjoyed our meals and our server Emily was terrific (definitely ask for her). There’s so much more on the menu that we want to try that we’ll definitely be heading back soon. Oh, and did I mention they serve brunch?
– Michael Riegelman
They’re located a block west of the Franklin C train station and two blocks west from the Nostrand A train. Also both the B44 and B45 bus stops at Classon & Fulton.
More info on Alice’s Arbor:
General Manager Eric Goulangeis known for bringing the best in select craft beers and spirits. While studying Engineering at Penn State University, he left school to pursue his passion of becoming a restaurateur. He has 10 years experience, and over 17 years total experience in the restaurant industry. Head Chef Mike Franzetti has worked under some of New York City’s best chefs including Jean Louis Palladin, Jonathan Waxman, Mark Ladner, and Paul Di Bari, as well as at Chestnut in Brooklyn, where he honed his skills in the European tradition. He’s now using those skills to pursue his main interest — authentic, seasonal, full-flavored American dishes with an emphasis on farm-to-table fare.
We also hold weekly and monthly events, with a focus on our local community, and also run a full gourmet store inside the restaurant.
Photos via Alice’s Arbor and by Socially Superlative