Billet & Bellows
A LocalBozo.com Restaurant Review
177 Grand Street at Bedford Avenue, Williamsburg
Getting There: L to Bedford Avenue
Restaurant Review: Billet and Bellows
Finding a way to stand out in a crowded Brooklyn bar and restaurant scene can certainly be a challenge- especially in bustling Williamsburg. Despite a preponderance of new openings and scenester hang-outs, newcomer Billet & Bellows has shown absolutely no difficulty in doing so. A charming local place that serves satisfying comfort fare, the Grand Street bar is casually laid back in the best way possible.
Ducking in on a recent weeknight, we were welcomed by a three-piece band creating a perfectly artsy ambiance in which to taste some of the bar’s offerings. Inventively, the space is adorned with a variety of decorative metalwork from the chairs to the decor, even the lamps all seemed to be made of metal. The design is no coincidence as we learned that owner Kristina Kozak is a fairly established artist for her work with metal pieces (http://www.minemetalart.com/) which are on display all around different nooks in Williamsburg.
After settling in our corner of the bar, the place was quickly filling up and we started off our evening with some of the bar’s signature cocktails. Both the “Pisco Sour” (Kappa Pisco, egg whites, lemon juice and aromatic bitters) and the “Sazerac” (Mitcher’s 1 US rye, cane sugar, Peychaud’s Bitters and absinthe rinse) were the perfect starters, despite being a bit strong on the alcohol side. The food meanwhile was a welcome addition not too long after with a selection of “Marinated Olives,” “Deviled Eggs Benedict” (layered with ham and English muffin crumbs), pickles, and the first hit of the night, their “Grilled Cheese” (skillfully decorated by caramelized onions, gruyere and served with tomato soup jus). The classic sandwich was rich and buttery, offset some by the gooey melting subtle cheese enveloped in the toasted rustic bread. While the tomato soup was a welcome addition, it wasn’t even necessary; an indication of how delicious the sandwich tasted.
After savoring some of the initial offerings, we spent some time perusing the remainder of the bar’s space, following much of the festive and likeminded crowd. With an art installation leading toward Billet and Bellows’ back patio area and a small fireplace as well, the place takes on a sophisticated, yet homey feel. Perhaps that’s also the best way to describe their cocktail program as well. Their “Heavy on Metal” section features favorites like the refreshing “Draw and Temper” replete with Illegal Mezcal and Don Julio Reposado, and our favorite drink of the night, the “Hearth and Anvil” made with apple brandy and Bulleit Bourbon, which went down so easy that we were forced to pump the brakes a bit.
Other highlights included the restaurant’s “Jumbo Soft Hot Pretzel” served with a fiery whiskey mustard dipping sauce, the “Baby Bliss Potato Skins” topped with crunchy pork cracklins, and then our favorite dish of the night, the “Chicken Liver Toast” served with chutney and cornichons. The toast offered up a multitude of different flavors at once as sweet, savory and creamy all formed a perfect marriage. Similarly, Billet & Billows would offer tasty dishes, strong and innovative cocktails and a welcoming setting that allows you to swat away any pretension and any misconception about Williamsburg and simply kick back for an admirable all around experience.
- Jackie Benavides