Restaurant review: New Williamsburg taverns

Allswell and Lighthouse court the nabe's newest habitus.

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  • Photograph: Caroline Voagen Nelson

    Brooklyn Lighthouse

    Brooklyn Lighthouse

  • Photograph: Caroline Voagen Nelson

    Brooklyn Lighthouse

    Brooklyn Lighthouse

  • Photograph: Caroline Voagen Nelson

    Brooklyn Lighthouse

    Brooklyn Lighthouse

  • Photograph: Caroline Voagen Nelson

    Brooklyn Lighthouse

    Brooklyn Lighthouse

  • Photograph: Caroline Voagen Nelson

    Brooklyn Lighthouse

    Brooklyn Lighthouse

  • Photograph: Caroline Voagen Nelson

    Brooklyn Lighthouse

    Brooklyn Lighthouse

  • Photograph: Caroline Voagen Nelson

    Brooklyn Lighthouse

    Brooklyn Lighthouse

  • Photograph: Caroline Voagen Nelson

    Brooklyn Lighthouse

    Brooklyn Lighthouse

Photograph: Caroline Voagen Nelson

Brooklyn Lighthouse

Brooklyn Lighthouse

Lighthouse, which is on a desolate stretch near the BQE, is as much a boon to its block. Assaf Tamir, a former bartender at Macao Trading Company, has built a showcase here for craft cocktails, good simple food and Bauhaus-style design.

Like Allswell, the restaurant is a classic bootstrap endeavor. Tamir along with his sister and partner Naama, opened the place with chef Nicholas Cox, a La Esquina veteran who's also got a stake. They transformed the formerly derelict Latin nightclub into an inviting canteen, turning to their family and friends to help design and build the fixtures and the furniture—the picnic-style tables; the long curvy bar.

A collaborative spirit explains the eclectic menu as well. The Tamirs, who are Israeli, add accents from home—house-pickled rutabaga scented with cumin and coriander; a side of mujadra, fragrant rice, tossed with caramelized onions, lentils and a dollop of sumac-infused yogurt. The versatile Cox manages well with the rest of the globe-trotting menu. There are gambas al ajillo, olive-oil-poached shrimp, steeped in lemon juice and garlic; and barbecued pork ribs—sweet, sticky and falling off the bone.

But the less exotic fare is the real draw here, the stuff you'll eat on the regular if you live in the area. A half chicken, roasted in a cast-iron pan, is crisp and juicy, with a nutty mound of Israeli couscous to go with it. Tender pink lamb chops, beautifully seared on the grill, are zingy with garlic aioli and cool salsa verde. For dessert, there's sweet custard pie or chocolate cake with pistachios.

You won't be dragging your Manhattan friends to Allswell or Lighthouse—there are other, more eccentric dining rooms to wow them with. But when the weather dips and the mood calls for good food and a warm welcome, you may find yourself retracing your steps again and again, feeling fortunate to be in a place where familiar fare is anything but pedestrian.

Vitals: Lighthouse

Eat this: Mixed pickle platter, gambas al ajillo, cast-iron chicken, lamb chops, mujadra

Drink this: The cocktails (all $11) include straight-up classics like a superlative Dark and Stormy, served layered in a tall glass with Gosling's rum on top. There are also Tamar's original creations, like the Our Man in Havana, a delicious funky mix of Templeton rye, Zaya aged rum, Cointreau and fig bitters.

Sit here: The long deep bar is well suited for dining, although the picnic-style communal tables offer a bit more room to spread out.

Conversation piece: Assaf and Naama's parents left their mark on the restaurant: Their father designed the brass light fixtures, and their mother shipped in the napkins from Israel.

See more Restaurant reviews

Allswell

Time Out Ratings

<strong>Rating: </strong>1/5

124 Bedford Ave at North 10th St, Williamsburg, Brooklyn (347-799-2743). Subway: L to Bedford Ave. Daily 10am--3:30am. Average main course: $22.


Lighthouse

Time Out Ratings

<strong>Rating: </strong>1/5

145 Borinquen Pl at Keap St, Williamsburg, Brooklyn (347-789-7742). Subway: G to Metropolitan Ave. Tue, Wed 6pm--midnight; Thu, Fri 6pm--1am; Sat noon--4pm, 6pm--1am; Sun noon--4pm, 6pm--midnight. Average main course: $22.

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