As I waited in a narrow hallway on the bathroom line, the girl ahead of me drunkenly gushed that she comes to this place all the time—it’s just sooo good. A cook emerged from a doorway and nodded. Clad in skinny pants and long necklaces, the regular exuded the sort of dressed-down elegance (or dressed-up casual?) that characterizes the place. There’s a marble white bar against subway tile-lined walls, slate blue-grey paint and an open kitchen framed with reclaimed Coney Island boardwalk planks. A vase full of eucalyptus greets you near the entrance. But the humble facade recedes once your food or drink comes out—then it’s evident that when it comes to bars you’re at the head of Brooklyn class.
A pair of first-time restaurateurs opened Prospect on a stretch of Fort Greene littered with bars and restaurants, each competing to snag both residents and wanderers before and after events at the Barclays Center, which opened at roughly the same time as this place. A glance at the cocktail menu might not raise your expectations, but the execution and service score major points. When I inquired about a quirky drink involving Jameson, ginger ale and maraschino cherries (The Wild Eyed Rose, $11), the bartender nodded but pointed me in another direction, in his opinion the better choice: an applejack brandy cocktail with Velvet Falernum, lemon and grenadine (The Jack Frost, $11). Shaken with ice and served in a ladylike glass, it was a well-balanced concoction with a tickle of sweetness.
Even when crammed along the bar fighting for elbow space, it wasn’t difficult to flag down the attentive staff for another drink. The wine list is concise, but to cut to the chase my bartender poured a taste of the Austrian Zweigelt when I proposed a medium-bodied red. At $14 a glass, this was on the pricier end, but it did its job serviceably down to the last smooth sip. The wine list offers much variety in lesser-known provinces and grapes like a Mencia from Bierzo in Spain and a Sauvignon Blanc from Waiheke Island in New Zealand. Prospect’s not a great destination for beer drinkers, but what few offerings it does have on draft—only four—weren’t obvious: the Kelso Pils, Southhampton Double White, Mendocino Brewing Double IPA, and Keegan’s Mother’s Milk Stout.
While sipping any one of these, you might notice piles of French fries stacked like kindling logs or inch-thick seared crusts on fish fillets or duck breasts flooding from the kitchen on modern white plates. The food is more-than-meets-the-menu; under Chef Kyle McClelland, it’s gutsy and exquisite. With a separate bar menu filled with snacks—like the perfectly crisped truffle oil-scented fries—small plates and sandwiches, the restaurant caters to the drinking crowd as well as those seated for a three-course dinner. In fact, you can get either menu no matter where you’re seated. Rather than crown the bar menu with a juicy grassfed burger, Prospect offers a twist: it’s a meatloaf sandwich, carved out of wagyu beef and studded with capers, topped with caramelized onions and cheddar cheese. Once finished supping and draining your drinks, you might feel like you’ve just left the home of those friends who are just cooler and more creative than you. In short, you’re not just drunk—you’ve been inspired.
Photo Rachel Been