583 Vanderbilt Ave, 718-857-5777
Rating: 2 out of 5 L's
"Woodwork is a sexy soccer bar, serving foodie and footie fans alike," boasts the website for this Prospect Heights bar. Sounds a bit cutesy, but on a chilly weeknight, it's just a no-frills neighborhood pub. Rumpled dudes fixate on three 50-inch televisions featuring soccer matches and Olympic events. High ceilings, a glass fa√ÃƒÆ’Ã†â€™Ãƒâ€¦Ã‚Â¸ade and track lighting diminish the warmth of the exposed brick walls and the rustic oak bar, which is made of floorboards salvaged from a century-old dairy farm. Sexiness is debatable, depending on what you're into. We witness a young man offering to buy a lady a pickleback, which she nervously declines. Bottles are carefully recycled. Beards are in ample supply.
There aren't beers on tap, and the well-priced bottles are poured into footed glasses, rather than pints. The easy-drinking Karlovacko Lager, at $5 for a 16.9-oz. bottle, offers the most bang for your buck. The menu states that wines are deliberately sourced from "many of the great football nations of the world." Luckily, Argentina, France and Spain happen to be home to some great wine regions, too. The cocktail list is small but steady—house-made maraschino cherries gently sweeten Woodwork's $8 Old Fashioned.
Chef-owner Ross Greenberg's corn-free kitchen focuses on organic ingredients as often as possible. The $7 tuna ni√ÃƒÆ’Ã†â€™Ãƒâ€¦Ã‚Â¸oise sandwich, large and generously stacked with hard-boiled eggs, arugula, Gruyere, and olive tapenade, seems like a bargain next to the tiny $6 square of grilled cheese. Both are flanked by piles of elegant little cornichons. Cheese and meat plates paired with pickled beets and cherry tomatoes make for gourmet bar snacks.
The big-screen soccer matches may eventually draw a European clientele, but during our visit we only hear one British accent. It belongs to a new Prospect Heights resident named Giles who's "just looking for a place to get merrily destroyed without consequence." A New Yorker for the past five years, Giles isn't amused when the server jokingly asks to be paid in American dollars. Still, he says he'll be back to watch football matches in real time—the bar opens at 8am (when it's already 1pm in the UK) and offers waffles, croissants, tea and French press coffee to early risers.
One might argue that this bourgie footballer bar is too aptly named ("Hitting the woodwork" is when a ball narrowly misses the goal by bouncing off the goal post). But if you're a footie fan who likes an organic Malbec with your match, this neighborhood pub is a total score.