615 Manhattan Avenue, Greenpoint
This narrow nook of a restaurant in the back room of Tørst might be the best place on the planet to take a beer nerd on a dream date. The restaurant’s 26 seats are tightly packed, and the proximity to our neighbors made us aware that it’s possible for young men to discuss nothing but beer for three hours. When one of them boasted about belonging to some underground beer message board that’s capped at 50 users, I felt relieved that my husband, who triumphantly scored our opening-day reservation before the restaurant got booked solid for the next few months, wasn’t the biggest beer nerd in the room.
Still, he seemed giddy about each bottle we got, starting with a special batch of Mikkeller’s It’s Alive! that had been brewed with rhubarb exclusively for Tørst. (The brewer, Mikkel Borg Bjergsø, is Tørst beer-consultant Jeppe Jarnit-Bjergsø’s brother.) This sour Belgian ale stood up to the vinegar-doused, potato-chip-esque ham crisp, one of the three shared plates that started our meal. Our server refreshed our wine glasses with small pours—no pints here—as we shared a six-bite serving of artfully arranged roasted carrots and beets, and a scant bowl of lightly sweet, crumbly seaweed crackers to dip in a disproportionate portion of mussel mousse.
“It’s not like they’re pairing the beer with the food here—it’s like they’re pairing the food with the beers,” my husband said. Jeppe’s Evil Twin brews steered three of the courses. The hoppy and lightly funky Femme Fatale Brett tamed the lime-vinegar tartness of a little bowl of razor clams, cucumber, radish and bone marrow. The caramel notes of the mild and malty Noma Juniper brought out the sweetness of wilted gem lettuce and the nuttiness of chanterelles in pea broth enriched by the yolk of a poached egg. A sour and sweet blueberry beer called Justin Blåbær, labeled with a photo of Jeppe in his days as a hair model, accompanied a scoop of spruce ice cream (like a creamy Christmas tree), a rhubarb-beet dessert, and traditionally Danish chocolate-covered marshmallows. The only pour that wasn’t brewed by family came with the main course: the sour cherry of Rodenbach’s Grand Cru brought depth and sweetness to a finger-sized portion of perfectly charred and juicy lamb with a little salad of tender shaved lamb tongue and earthy sunchokes.
There simply isn’t another place—in Brooklyn or on Earth—where you can sample such rare beers paired perfectly with food. The $45 for the beer tasting makes sense. But $75 seemed too much for very tiny portions of food that would lack power without the beer pairings. All tasting menus are pricy, but the five-course menu at Battersby is consistently heartier, sets the borough’s standard for deliciousness, and costs $10 less. We’re intrigued to see what this innovative kitchen does next, but as long as a table for two costs $240 plus tax and tip, this pioneering food-and-drink experience may be exclusively available to beer geeks with fat wallets.
Photo by Austin McAllister