Date Night: Brooklyn Label, Happy Hour and Bar Snacks in Greenpoint
Like a dress that can take you from day to evening, Brooklyn Label seamlessly handles the transition from coffee bar to bar and restaurant. As darkness falls, the flicker of candles replaces the glow of Apple products. Regulars sit at the great big bar of this Greenpoint cafe and gradually switch from latte to pint.
As part of Happy Hour, weeknights from 5 to 7, Brooklyn Label offers a whole chicken or pork porterhouse (a "huge plate of pork" was our server's initial description), two sides, and a bottle of wine or a growler of Narragansett beer for $35. Certain cocktails are $7, selected drafts are $3, snacks are $5, fries or salad are $2. Based on our experience, not enough people are taking advantage of these deals. You should go.
It's tempting to pop the fried chickpeas ($3) with your fingers as a snack, but we quickly discovered the benefits of using the spoon. Doing so allowed us to eat more of these meaty marbles at a time. Daintily fried, they were covered in rosemary and cayenne, giving them a light kick.
Obviously there's only one way to eat Texas-style wings ($5 during Happy Hour, $10), and so we did, covering our hands with the glaze. The portion was huge, the wings not at all skimpy. Elements of brown sugar, ketchup, cider vinegar, and chipotle turned the sauce sugary and fruity. The ample wipes your server brings will help.
Though it was cooked fine, the hanger steak ($16) lacked seasoning. No salt on the meat, no pepper on the roasted potatoes, no delight in the caramelized onions. Even the liberally applied chimichurri lacked teeth. The dish rankled in part because our other food hadn't suffered this fate. Luckily we had a side of sweet potato fries ($5) to console ourselves with.
"Here's your nut love," our server said as he brought out our second entree. Or at least that's what we heard. And the vegan nut loaf ($11) did show love, nestled among its chopped cashews, walnuts, hazelnuts, oats, and mushrooms. Onion chutney acted as the sweetener and the glue. What could have been a sop to vegetarians is instead a crunchy, tangy mix that we couldn't get enough of.
Brooklyn Label has an appealing, low-key vibe. Our flannel-clad server provided several tables with recommendations for other bars in Greenpoint, as if he forgot that he worked in a pretty good one. Landon Pigg fell in love there, and maybe you could too, as long as you stay away from the steak. With an inviting, wood-filled space fit for lazy days and romantic nights, Brooklyn Label is best for: a flexible date.