SB3 is a restaurant with a mission statement — literally. Maybe manifesto is a better word. On its website potential diners discover that it disdains processed foods and partners with local farmers to reproduce American classics and “seasonal delights” while creating a home away from home for travelers and locals.
Are they serious? I have no idea, but it doesn’t seem to be working. The corner space, walls peeled open to the street, lies on an inviting stretch of Avenue B. In the basement they run a small music venue. I hope the shows get a bigger crowd than the restaurant, which on a weekend night from 7 to 10pm had a total of five diners, including my table of three. Not a good sign.
The restaurant’s even a good deal. An entree flight of three Bangers and Mash Combos was only $9, including chorizo, bratwurst, and sweet Italian sausages with carrot ginger, chipotle and basil-sunchoke mashed potatoes, respectively. It was awkwardly plated and seemed more like hors d’oeuvres. But who doesn’t love hors d’oeuvres?
Likewise, a $20 King Crab Dinner came with a simple blueberry and goat’s milk cheese-based salad, ample portions of crab legs and joints, and dessert. A good deal, but not a success. The blueberries lacked their natural sweet tang, the crab was boiled to stringy oblivion (enough melted butter obscured that), and the pear tart — grudgingly served by our surly waitress — substituted a farm-fresh ethos for cooking technique.
My dinner of Cold Asparagus Soup ($6) and Pesto Farfalle with Purple Cauliflower ($10) was underwhelming as well. Cold vegetable soups live and die on texture, and this one was mealy, though nicely presented with chili cream and roasted leeks. The pasta was sublimely fresh, but unseasoned.
SB3 has promise, but it may be too far gone to save. It’s that dangerous combination of passionate, if hands-off, ownership and inept staff. Example: our waitress called the restaurant a gastro-pub (and never mentioned the extremely ambitious cocktail menu). I ordered a beer. She said they only had one beer available. Or how does an empty restaurant run out of a pasta entree? Or why was our check brought before we were offered dessert — which came free with one of our meals?
I would like to think this was just a bad first (and last) night for a waitress, but the dead silence hanging over the dining room, an otherwise inviting space, told a different tale. I’m not going to stick around to see how it ends. I might print out the mission statement — at least that’s good for a laugh.