Safe Haven Bar and Grill 689 Sixth Ave, Brooklyn Rating: 4L's
“This craft beer thing is bullshit.” So says Safe Haven co-owner Patrick Meagher, fed-up with the fact that at many New York beer bars, ordering a canned American beer is the social equivalent of strolling in naked and pissing on the bartender. Hence his intention to open a beer-centric bar free of any wine-bar attitude, where Belgians froth alongside PBR and Bud and your drink selection is spared judgment.
Meagher and his fellow co-owners abide by a central dogma: authenticity — from the drinks, to the food, to the service. Which I realize in Brooklyn is about as clichéd as tapered jeans and ironic Hall and Oates T-shirts — but coming from this crew, I actually believe it. The staff is genuinely interested in what they do, and — aside from the aluminum siding painted to look rusty — the place feels homey, from hardwood floors to exposed brick to faux-wood vinyl tables (which, incidentally, will soon be replaced by the real thing). Also expect a 100-CD jukebox stocked with real albums and no greatest hits. Except in the case of Ted Nugent, for obvious reasons.
At the moment Safe Haven has six taps — three of which are Six Point — with an additional ten, plus a cask beer planned for the fall. Pints will average $5 with the occasional “craftier” stray. And don’t neglect the varied bottle collection featuring Smuttynose IPA, Allagash White and Ommegang Abbey for $5, along with Bud, Bud Light and Pabst tallboys for $4. Safe Haven also offers 23 bourbons — kindly left by previous occupant Bar-BQ, which shuttered this July — and, while it’s not a cocktail bar in spirit, all its mixed drinks are made with fresh fruit juice. With over 80 years of bartending experience between the owners, they can make just about anything. And make it well.
Over the next few months, Safe Haven will be rolling out their menu, emphasizing adjectives like homemade, local and affordable: think pulled pork, catfish fingers and what they hope will be a best of-worthy, freshly ground burger — it hits the menu as soon as they decide on a roll. Plus there’s the requisite dive bar double entendre — the impending “Hairy Clam” special: clam chowder and a can of Busch.
Meagher and co. take the name from Henry Hudson’s first impression of New York Harbor and intend the bar to be a safe haven from “bad attitudes and general discomfort.” And they’re on the right track: once complete, this place could be the ideal bar — low-brow attitude (read: divey cred) melded with high-quality appreciation. And all with a modest pricetag and ‘Cat Scratch Fever’ blaring in the background.