Photos by Austin Mcallister
214 Third Street, Gowanus
Standard dieting advice says that food shopping on an empty stomach can leave you with a cart full of calorie-dense impulse buys. But dining before you shop at the Roof, the taproom and counter-service café on the second floor of Brooklyn’s new Whole Foods, poses different risks. You might easily blow your entire shopping budget on wholesome bar food before your aisle-wandering even begins. Or, after a few rounds upstairs, you may find yourself drunkenly loading your cart with Third & 3rd specialties like frozen Roberta’s pizzas, pints of Van Leeuwen’s vegan ice cream and Chocopologie Chestnut Cocoa Stout Chocolate Truffles, wiping out both your budget and your dietary resolutions. But we don’t think you’ll regret it.
The taproom is tucked into the corner of a larger seating area, where customers can bring trays from the food court and downstairs. If you’ve got a big appetite, it’s worth hitting the Yuji Ramen counter on your way up for a bowl of broth-less yet big-flavored noodles to eat as an appetizer; the Roof’s food service is on the slow side. Otherwise, we couldn’t complain. Even on a recent rainy Saturday afternoon, the second-floor space was filled with natural light. There were a few seats taken at every one of the many communal tables, and the majority of parties were helmed by a kid or two; despite all the highchairs, the scene was mellow enough to sip a Stillwater Stateside Saison—a citrusy, golden farmhouse ale—in peace. (The 16 beers on tap include a few that are brewed especially for the Third & 3rd Whole Foods Market, like Evil Twin’s Even More Denmark, a smoky and malty chocolate-chestnut stout that’s 10 percent alcohol.)
The Roof offers lots of meaty bar food, like burgers, maple-sriracha wings, beer-glazed ribs, juicy hot dogs, baby brats served on mini pretzel rolls, and chorizo cheese fries. But there are also plenty of vegetarian options. The Winter Grilled Cheese, on buttery stout bread, has just the right ratio of sweet pear-ginger preserves to sharp cheddar. In another savory sandwich, chestnuts, roasted red onions and honey complement a Cabmembert. The crisp-tender cauliflower steak, though on the bland side, was artfully presented in a ring of saffron aioli, toasted almonds and plump currants. The Brussels sprouts, which were larger than golf balls, were served whole. The central leaves seemed undercooked compared to the caramelized exteriors; a fig accompaniment sweetened the dish. A huge salad of crisp, refreshing bitter greens, tart blood orange rounds and crunchy toasted pistachios was big enough to share. Our bellies now full of cleansing leaves and citrus, we headed downstairs to fill our baskets with fancy candy bars, pizzas, ice cream and growlers of beer .