[Pigging by Wilfrid: April 3, 2013]
There are two routes to the restaurants of Williamsburg, one involving the L Train, the other the J,M, or even Z. Those routes are well-trodden by adventurous diners these days.
It's the latter route which led to my acquaintance with Post Office, a bar-cum-eatery which has just spawned a larger sibling, O.T.B..
And the cocktails there were good: properly measured and made. I sipped them while I observed not just "soups and sandwiches," as the website says but oysters, deviled eggs, and some heartier, one-dish meals, emerge from a kitchen the size of the wardrobe at the end of the bar. One evening, anticipating a light dinner in my immediate future, I sucked down the chicken liver and bacon baguette (with mayo, pickled cucumber, carrot & shallot).
When I heard the owners were opening a full service restaurant with chef Sam Glinn, I thought, "This might be good." It is. Albeit, very early days.
O.T.B. is further west on Broadway, located in a very high-ceilinged, long and rectangular space, minimally decorated (there are some old payphones on the wall, some racing memorabilia, vintage photos apparently by the chef's father, Burt Glinn). Although it seems brightly lit, it's lousy for photography. A communcal table in the window, neat marble tables beyond that, booths as you head back, and a very long bar, where most of the action was.
O.T.B., for many of its customers, will serve primarily as bar, with Post Office's mixology heritage well preserved. But it would be a pity to overlook the food: the currently truncated menu divides into American comfort dishes (burger, chicken wings), and French bistro staples. I understand it will expand.
But it would be churlish not to start with a cocktail. The OTB list is split into classics and newbies; from the latter came the red glow of the Staycation, a collision of Old Overholt with mezcal, raspberry syrup, "tiki" bitters, and who knows what else. Think of it as a kind of strawberry julep: the whisky beats the mezcal out of the ring, which is fine by me.
Wine (like beer: six choices) has a reduced role here, but even by the glass, it's served in surprisingly elegant stemware. And in a surprisingly elegant way too. For all the youth of the bar's apparent demographic, and informality of setting, O.T.B. has really lovely, traditional service. One server even wends her way through the crowd, bearing a tray above her head (I saw her serve a plastic bottle of ketchup from it); the rest don't, but their demeanour is appealing.
And so's the food.
Snails. Why not? Nothing revolutionary here: just medium-sized gastropods luxuriating in a herby, garlicky, buttery sauce, sizzling hot.
Sliced baguette was present for dipping in the sauce, as it was too in the similarly structured coq au vin. Indeed, you probably don't want to order both these dishes once the menu gets longer.
This was as good a coq au vin as I've had in the city. Properly moist dark meat, rich saucing, baby carrots. My only objection? Not pickled onions, please. They work against the sauce and the wine. Braised pearl onions, sure.
You'll find a modest raw bar too (hamachi, lobster tail), salads, and a steak frites. The noise level, helped by the high ceiling and bare walls, rises. Interesting hats are worn by almost all clients. The menu is designed to resemble a racing tipster sheet.
But it's a comfortable, welcoming place, for all that, and Sam Glinn's straightforwardly good cooking is going to be worth following.
I see no website.