Neil Ganic joined the Chef Freakout Hall of Fame in 2009 when he stormed out of the kitchen of his Carroll Gardens restaurant, Le Petit Crevette, brandishing a live lobster at one of his guests after the diner sent back the cioppino twice. This legendary story lives on in the name of Ganic’s new wine bar, Flying Lobster.
Flying Lobster is located in the old Coffee Den space next to Le Petit Crevette. The lobster-red walls, ceiling and banquettes, along with nautical tchotchkes and a large painting of a mermaid, contribute to a vibe that’s part bordello, part seaside lounge.
Although the menu states that Flying Lobster is “a wine bar devoted to giving you the best selections of wine, beer and small plates,” there was no food on offer when I visited. Nervously, the barman explained that cheese and cured meats would be available soon, and then rushed through the bar’s mission statement, before describing every off-menu pour available that evening. While Mr. Bartender paused to catch his breath, my friend interjected and ordered the two glasses (2009 Decenio Rioja Joven $10 and the 2006 Campo Viejo Rioja Reserve $11) we had decided on seven minutes prior, only to learn the Campo Viejo was unavailable. We ended up with two glasses of the Decenio Rioja after tasting a few replacement reds that didn’t satisfy.
Oddly enough, with eleven reds by the glass there is very little variety on the wine list: four Riojas, three Bordeaux, two Montepulciano d’Abruzzo, one Chianti and one South African Pinot Noir. We are fortunate to be living in a city filled with places pushing the limits of viticulture! Why not create a wine bar that challenges the guest to drink beyond a 2009 Main Street Sauvignon Blanc? At half the size, the white list is more restrained and diverse, with one organic option, the 2009 Carpineti Capolemole ($10). Beer is an afterthought: Brooklyn Lager, Red Stripe, Pilsner Urquell—all bottles, all $6.
As we were packing up, Ernie the accordionist sauntered in (the Flying Lobster occasionally offers live music). Never one to pass up a squeezebox session, I insisted we stay for one song. Ernie solicited requests and when my friend shouted for a Blossom Dearie tune, Ernie searched the red tin ceiling for an answer. After an a-ha moment, he broke into a rendition of “Me and Bobbie McGee” and we hit the road, happy to have escaped unscathed (by crustaceans anyway).