Roebling Inn, 97 Atlantic Ave, Brooklyn
Rating: 3 out of 5 L’s
The fresh smell of paint greets you at the door as you enter this spiffy new bar from the manager of the Brooklyn Inn. On the Wednesday night when we dropped by, Death Cab for Cutie’s cover of Superchunk’s “Kicked In” trickled through the speakers. Like the song, the bar itself is pleasant and slightly familiar—but it’s lost all the attitude, fuzz and grit of the original. The windowless front wall that made the space’s previous occupant, Magnetic Field, feel like a dark, shrouded clubhouse has been torn down and replaced with a glass facade. Now, the street lights of Atlantic Avenue filter in, and stained-glass sconces flicker on the unsullied burgundy walls, casting a glow over polished mirrors and black-and-white prints of ye olde Brooklyn.
The crowd is different, too. Magnetic Field’s punky, sweet, and inked-up bartenders have been replaced by the kind of girls you could take home to your mama—without worrying that they’d show off their new tattoos. In a closet-sized kitchen beside the bar, they warm up pretzels, hot dogs, meat pies and hot toddies. The dark chocolate-covered almonds on the blackboard menu seem to be geared toward the womenfolk, but on the evening we visited, there was a 15:1 male-to-female ratio among the patrons. The mixed bag of men—older gentlemen in leather jackets and fedoras and thirty-somethings in ski caps and puffy parkas—sat along the wooden bar, quietly watching basketball on three TVs. It seems likely that the sports fans will get louder and rowdier once they get comfortable, but this bar has only been open since the end of December, and its regulars are still getting settled in.
For now, Roebling Inn is a civilized pub with respectable local beers on tap—Six Points, Kelsos and Ommegangs—and plenty of chairs in which to sip them. This ample seating might be Roebling’s biggest draw. There are tables near the front window, a bunch more in the raised area beside the bar, a hidden table for two in the nook beside the jukebox, and there are even chairs in the back room, which is devoted to dart-playing. It may never be “kicked in and dark inside” like Magnetic Field—as that old Superchunk song goes—but this place definitely has the potential to earn its own character in time.