If you happen to end up in Red Hook—whether by bus, bike, or long sketchy walk across the BQE from Carroll Gardens—Fort Defiance welcomes you with open arms, your journey rewarded with delicious cocktails and hearty food. Café by day, bar by night, Fort Defiance serves smart but simple fare befitting its artisanal-minded neighbors.
It's the sort of place where locals can graze on pickled herring, chicken liver pate, or grilled pheasant on a nightly basis, accompanied by an Old Fashioned or Sazerac. Currently the menu features the soul-warming Oxtail Soup with Liver Dumplings ($11), which resemble the texture of matzo balls but have a delicate meaty flavor.
Thinly sliced Braised Pork Tongue ($12) is much more tender than it initially appears. A thick, creamy applesauce and horseradish punctuates the dish.
Grilled Broccoli with Ricotta ($9) with olives and pine nuts was perfectly proportioned, with the light creaminess of the cheese balancing the slightly bitter char of the grilled vegetable. It is perfect in its role as a side dish, but stands alone quite well for any vegetarian.
Fort Defiance's cocktails lean heavily on well-made classics with locally distilled spirits such as Breukelen Whiskey and Gin. Though an Old Fashioned is always a good choice, finish the evening with an Irish Coffee ($10), a perfect coffee, whisky and cream concoction that is sure to send you home full and happy.
About the author: Nancy Huang, who comes to New York by way of Los Angeles, writes The Wanderist, a food and travel blog of adventures here and abroad. She loves noodles, subway maps, and word games.