French Flavor in Williamsburg

11/03/2010 4:00 AM |

Le Comptoir
251 Grand Street, Williamsburg

Sebastien Chamaret and Adrien Angelvy met each other at the famed (and sadly now defunct) La Goulue, the tony French bistro that served the Upper East Side for 36 years. After the restaurant shuttered, the pair decided to move to decidedly hipper digs, located on Williamsburg’s ever-gentrifying Grand Street.

Chef Chamaret grew up on a farm near Brittany and started attending culinary school at the tender age of 14. Despite his classically trained French roots, you won’t find him cooking chicken au poivre or boeuf bourgignon; instead, he prepares a seasonal menu of contemporary bistro fare like potato gnocchi with duck confit and braised short ribs with celery root mousseline. The dinner menu changes constantly, meaning you might walk in twice in the same week and find something new. Don’t worry, Brooklyn foodies, the sourcing fits your sustainability standards: all of the produce is organic, the fish wild-caught and the beef grass-fed. The notoriously slow State Liquor Authority has yet to grant the spot a liquor license, so until then the restaurant is only open for dinner from Thursday through Sunday with a plan to serve European and New World wines along with local craft brews in the future. The restaurant is, however, serving brunch every single day, featuring dishes like a wild mushroom and goat cheese frittata, eggs Benedict and a bacon cheeseburger sausage sourced from The Meat Hook.

The space itself has a pleasant, airy feel to it, with its white-painted exposed brick walls and long curved zinc bar looking into the open kitchen. The two co-owners did all of the work themselves, stripping and reusing the wood from the previous café. In front, you’ll find a lounge with brown leather banquettes where eventually DJs will come to spin; in back, a 35-seat garden decked out in white, looking appropriately breezy considering Angelvy’s St. Tropez background.

No, you can’t drink booze here yet, but there are worse places to spend a sober evening among friends. Besides, it’s in Williamsburg; if you can’t find a bar to drink at before or after your meal, you just aren’t looking hard enough.