285 Bedford Avenue, Williamsburg
It’s no secret that New York is having a love affair with San Francisco food: Blue Bottle beans are taking over coffee shops, there are themed bars like Pacific Standard and Mission Dolores, and Mission Chinese Food has rocked our world like a long-lost love child (and will soon open another location). This would all make a great case for opening an outpost of one of Frisco’s favorite sausage and craft-beer bars, Rosamunde, in Brooklyn. And it’s here now, in South Williamsburg. What, haven’t you seen?
I guess it’s easy to miss among the dozens of bars along Bedford Avenue heading toward Broadway, but it’s right across the street from ol’ standby Dumont Burger in the former space of a short-lived divey bar. Instead of Dumont’s ground beef, Rosamunde beckons passersby with 12 types of sausages on a roll, in a more casual setting, with speakers so loud you have to scream. (Rosamunde does do a “burger Tuesday.”) Its real pull, however, are the 24 craft-beer drafts and some 50 bottles. This place is serious about filling your growler, too—they’ll arrange for delivery. It’s more or less the same formula that caused the commotion around Rosamunde’s initial location on Haight Street, then the one on Mission Street. But this transplant is fraught with a creeping sense of inauthenticity.
Take, for example, the many tap handles—it feels like you’re in San Francisco, basically. Nothing against Speakeasy, 21st Amendment, Bear Republic and Anchor Steam, but these and other West Coast breweries commanded a slight majority of the draft lines, while only about six could be described as “local.” (On the nights I visited: Brooklyn Brewery, Sixpoint, Ommegang, Empire, Captain Lawrence, Yuengling.) This might be fine, but Rosamunde’s selection of brews isn’t terribly well-curated. With mostly IPAs and other ales—plus several usual-suspect European exports (Weihenstephaner Hefe Weiss)—you could get a better craft-beer experience at a place with half as many lines if it were pouring more seasonals and rarities. Rosamunde seems more like an advertisement for its friends in San Francisco than a boon to its new community. While chatting with a bartender once about the beer choices, he shrugged haplessly, admitting that he hadn’t tried most of them. When there’s that many pours, some are bound to change out. Fortunately, it was between 5pm and 7pm, which made my decision easy: Anchor Steam pints are $1 at happy hour.
The food is slapped together behind a glowing display case of fresh sausages. For $8 or $8.75, you get a sausage on a roll with a choice of toppings like grilled onions. Everything from basic beer sausages and brats to a wild boar sausage with apples and fennel and even a few vegan varieties can be found here. The sausages are mostly made at the chainlet’s San Francisco base, with only a few made on-site, a cook explained. But when asked about the “special” sausage of the night, he had no clue what it was. The details must have gotten lost as it was shipped across the country.
The hungry and sudsy will no doubt relish a new place to sit back for a casual brat and pint. To be sure, there’s no real crime in being a little uninspired or careless when opening a sister bar on a whole new coast. But the Brooklyn-San Francisco tryst has had better dates.
Photo Courtesy Rosamunde