Photo Credit: Lee Bilsky
Many bars and restaurants in Brooklyn are proud of their ability to source fresh, delicious ingredients and libations from within the borough. The Federal Bar, a new restaurant and bar owned by the iconic music venue the Knitting Factory next door, is no exception.
Featuring fourteen hand-selected rotating taps of local craft beers including ten from NYC (Gun Hill, Other Half, Three’s, Warflag, Bridge and Tunnel and Flagship) they certainly chose the best each of those breweries has to offer. They also have a small list of bottles, cans and large format bottles for sharing, a tightly formed cocktail list featuring nine signature cocktails and six different wines by the glass.
We walked into The Federal Bar on a cold Friday looking forward to trying “Brooklyn comfort food.” The space is fairly small but the high ceilings and well-positioned wooden tables helped to open up the room. The bar area was illuminated by a seven foot blue globe hanging from the ceiling. The floors appear to be repurposed wood (perhaps from the carriage house that used to occupy the space), the wallpaper was a mix of different musical instrument patents and the majority of the dim lighting was provided by candled mason jars and old stage lights that hung overhead. Elijah, our waiter, walked us through the entire food and drink menu with ease and was incredibly knowledgeable about everything we asked. The service was definitely one of the highlights of the evening.
I started with a local collaboration Tres Equis brewed by Three’s and Other Half (both from Brooklyn). The Mexican Style Pale Lager poured a light bodied bright yellow, had a nice hop flavor, and a clean finish that made it extremely drinkable. My girlfriend opted for The Autumn cocktail, which came out an interesting bright green and with a very refreshing combination of vodka, Saint Germain, pineapple, lime and cucumber.
The cheeseslate was served on a rock plate seasonally decorated with three different types of aged cheddar and a side of apples in a cinnamon crumble. It paired very well with the non-offensive Tres Equis.
We split the mac & cheese with taleggio cheese, broccoli and fried panko served in a warm cast iron pan. This was definitely one of the better “fancy” mac & cheese dishes I’ve had in a long time and the al dente orecchiette pasta was the perfect shape to fully taste the cheese that filled it.
The lamb corndogs were a nice twist on an American classic and featured an olive tzatziki that offered a nice cooling influence as the romesco complimented the corndogs with a hint of acidity.
Being a purist, the chicken and waffles were the only disappointment of the night. The wings were slightly too large for the small, circular waffles and a bit too sweet, although the homemade red jalapeno and habanero hot sauce helped to offset that.
To end the night we ordered the coffee cake and I moved on to Other Half’s American Stout, Short Dark & Handsome. This dark, full-bodied stout boasted a tan head with mild roast and earthy hop aroma. Deep flavors of chocolate, coffee and toffee complimented the dessert perfectly. The coffee cake was rich and warm, which made it a perfect pairing with the cold fall weather just outside the door. A scoop of vanilla ice cream on top would have been the perfect pairing. Unfortunately, we were unable try the bread pudding that we heard “incorporates donuts from neighboring Greenpoint’s beloved Peter Pan Donut Shop” (Travel and Leisure). I consoled myself with the fact that we could come back.
I would definitely recommend this restaurant to anyone in the NYC area or looking to catch a show at the Knitting Factory next door. The tap list was small and impressive (the way it should be) and the mouth-watering menu would suit anyone looking to grab a filling bite.
367 Metropolitan Ave,
Hours of Operation:
Open 5:00pm nightly for dinner
Brunch: Noon Friday-Sunday
Happy Hour: Open – 7:00pm Monday – Friday
Originally Published Nov. 30, 2015