Mother’s347 Graham Ave, Williamsburg Rating: 2Ls
New York neighborhood bars are as varied as New York neighborhoods — Murray Hill has subdued hangouts with plasma screens tuned to whatever “the game” is on a given day, the East Village has dives with bartenders more focused on their shift playlist than your drink, and Williamsburg has…well, it hasn’t quite decided yet. In trying to reconcile its affection for derelict-chic and the climbing cost of lo-fi hipness, the ‘Burg finds itself in constant pursuit of the perfect local bar to suit the contradictory masses. With downscale cocktail lounges, high-concept dives and taxidermy on every available wall space, it seems like the neighborhood’s rationing of eclectic has been all used up.
Mother’s, the sister/spouse bar to ‘Burg mainstay Daddy’s, seems clueless about who it’s supposed to be. The success of Daddy’s is in its little touches: unusual selections on the jukebox, a curved bar and a signature “Margaveza.” Conversely, Mother’s is devoid of personality — a blank canvas of a bar where quirky details are lazy afterthoughts. And with a wine-and-beer-only menu and a last call at midnight, this is one spot that could have used an extra… something. The beer list is solid, if unspectacular: the 16 beers on tap include Blue Point Toasted Lager, Brooklyn Brown Ale and a Young’s Chocolate Stout; the bottled selections include three brews from Louisiana brewery Abita. All beers are under $7. There are two wines by the glass, but so unmemorable I wondered why they bothered. Turn your eyes instead to the house specialty: a mulled wine-cider blend ($6) that’s perfect on a cold evening. The food selections are the sort to compliment a beer: sirloin burgers, spicy chili and a tilapia sandwich (all $7 and under). With such average offerings, Mother’s should have upped their appeal with extra flourishes. But the interior is also uninspired and unironically drab.
Most of the decorative touches are puzzling: half the tables are covered in contact paper; large, ugly mirrors cover up a wall of exposed brick; and a nonfunctioning fireplace would be a cheeky feature if it weren’t so damn industrial-looking. A small back patio is promising for the summer months, but it doesn’t cancel out the worst sin: a flatscreen TV — blatantly out of place and hovering over you, like a frat guy at a Glasslands show.
If anyone declares Mother’s a “neighborhood bar,” it’ll be simply because they do little to attract anyone who lives outside the neighborhood. It’s a place of convenience: a bar with a few good beers and a decent burger that happened to open near a subway stop. It’s only a few blocks from Daddy’s, though — so the neighbors might do well to take a walk.