With shiny new condos on the rise and the artsy masses receding to Bushwick, Williamsburg’s era of übercool stands at a critical juncture—an echo of Soho’s arc from bohemian mecca to blanched commercial landscape. At the moment, though, the changing ’hood’s wide-ranging bar scene is hitting its boozy peak, accomodating both high-minded and budget-conscious drinkers, with hoity-toity oyster bars (Hotel Delmano, Maison Premiere) and standout dives (the Commodore, Lady Jay’s). Bridging the gap is the seaboard-inspired Extra Fancy, where $4 Bud drafts share menu space with local rosé wine. The bar-restaurant hybrid reflects the neighborhood’s high-low culture clash, catering gamely to both scruffy bearded types and the area’s recent influx of spendy settlers.
DRINK THIS: The team behind the joint has direct lineage from cocktail guru Dushan Zaric’s nightlife empire: Owner Mark Rancourt put in time at Macao Trading Co., and beverage director Robert Krueger paid his dues at Employees Only. Accordingly, the drinks list spotlights plenty of voguish spirits, like Averell Damson Gin, and approachable contemporary cocktails. The zippy Ray-Ray (Plymouth Gin, Pimm’s #1, herbs, Cel-Ray soda) proves herbaceous and refreshing, while the tart Squibnocket showcases a balanced mix of funky Banks 5 Island Rum, rich Kronan Swedish Punsch, fruity beach plum puree and fresh lime juice. Less successful is the Papi, Do Me a Favor—El Tesoro Platinum, dry sherry, Cocchi Americano, Royal Combier, grapefruit bitters—a muddle of premium spirits that suffers from an overdose of sweetness.
GOOD FOR: A civilized night out on Metropolitan Avenue. The spacious digs—including a backyard patio—mean you won’t have to elbow your way across the room to reach friends on a busy Saturday night.
THE CLINCHER: Although pedigreed chef Ross Florence, late of Le Bernardin, recently parted ways with Extra Fancy, the spot still turns out some seriously tasty seafood snacks. The Cape Cod clam fritters ($9) arrive at the table piping hot and golden brown, accompanied by a tangy chive-buttermilk sauce. Each fried nugget is studded with meaty littlenecks, sweet corn kernels and spicy bits of chili. Landlubbers can chow down on a juicy, grilled kielbasa ($12) served with tangy red-cabbage sauerkraut and swipes of caraway-mustard butter on a hot-dog roll.
By Mari Uyehara