338 Bedford Avenue, Williamsburg
At her old restaurant in Greenpoint, Queen’s Hideway, Liza Queen earned a reputation for quirky, homespun, freestyle cooking. After a two-year culinary stint in Saigon, she’s returned to Brooklyn and opened Potlikker, fittingly named for the rich liquid left in the pot after cooking collard greens—an all-American home-cookin’ elixir whose very last drops ought to be sopped up. But the environs here aren’t as folksy as the fare. With an autumnal breeze blowing in through Potlikker’s high-ceilinged open storefront, the space feels more airy than intimate. Whitewashed walls bounce the luster of big bright globe lights onto forest green tables and matching metal chairs. This isn’t a spot for low-light date-night coziness, but ample bar seating allows diners to snuggle up to the open kitchen—and there’s something romantic in watching each homey, bold-flavored dish come together.
Using the same seasonal local ingredients that every other Brooklyn bistro is using, Queen manages to build dishes that seem both straightforward and completely improvised, satisfying but strange. A Dutch pancake on the dinner menu is drizzled with hot pepper jelly, like honey with jalapeño heat; its sweet, puffy dough is then topped with crispy fried oysters, creamy goat cheese and smoky chunks of bacon ($12). In one aggressively flavored (and successful!) small plate, lusciously sweet fresh figs poached in Madeira are paired with bitter grilled radicchio, pungent and creamy Stilton and salty jambon de bayonne—France’s take on prosciutto ($13). The peppery arugula salad is mellower, with sweet roasted pumpkin and onions, shards of nutty Piave and a lightly tart lime dressing ($9). Decadent, tender pieces of pheasant confit graced the chestnut soup ($10), which was spiked with horseradish and sherry. The soup was another successful flavor experiment, but sadly, its texture was more gritty than creamy.
Since Potlikker’s menu is expected to change often, it’s the kind of place where you want to try as many dishes as possible before they disappear. We passed on the mains—brick chicken ($21), seafood risotto ($23), braised pork belly ($23) and sirloin steak ($23)—in favor of sampling more adventurous salads and small plates. And we were happy that we did. The malty Speakeasy Amber, with its caramel notes and creamy foam, proved the perfect pint to wash everything down ($6). And the nuanced tastes of the meal were echoed in a pitch-perfect dessert that balanced grandmotherly goodness with delicately balanced flavors: sticky-sweet roasted plums and tart lemon glaze topped a tangy buttermilk cake, with a loose crumb perfect for soaking up the sweet-tart juiciness of the fruit ($6). We’ll be waiting in the wings to sop up whatever rib-sticking options Potlikker has to offer in the coming cooler months.
Photo Matthew Feddersen
Inside Bedford Ave's Potlikker