Franklin Park

Photograph: David Rosenzweig

Time Out Ratings :

<strong>Rating: </strong>4/5

It's boom times for beer gardens, with suds merchants popping up everywhere from Williamsburg (Radegast) to Coney Island (Beer Island). To this raucous roll call add Franklin Park, the 1,300-square-foot garden (a liberal definition for this tree-shaded concrete slab) that recently opened in nightlife-deprived Crown Heights. The spot was a grungy garage until Southpaw co-owner Matthew Roff sunk his mitts into FP's industrial shell, fleshing out the raw indoors with dark-wood wainscoting, vibrant collages and a handsome, room-length oak bar adorned with vintage subway tiles. But the real scene is outside, where servers flutter among smoking-permitted picnic tables with canines curled beneath. A dozen drafts, from He'Brew's crisp Coney Island Lager to Stone's easy-sipping Pale Ale, constitute the beer offerings, a selection that doesn't quite measure up to microbrew havens like Blind Tiger or Pacific Standard. Prices feel a bit steep for this bodega-dotted block. Pints are $6; $4 from 4 to 7pm nightly—an expense easy to justify in Manhattan, but less so on this gritty stretch. Stock wines and cocktails are available too, but you don't dine at a steakhouse for the salad (on that note, there's nary a snack at Franklin Park, but you can bring in takeout grub). Costliness notwithstanding, the rugged digs suit the diverse clientele just fine—couples share the space with tee-clad dudes and off-the-clock teachers. Their presence makes for crowded weekend nights, when acquiring a picnic table or a cool beer can feel like a contact sport. Avoid the clutch by coming for carefree weekdays and sunny afternoons, when you can cradle a pint and savor this surprising yet welcome addition to a burgeoning 'hood.—TONY

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618 St. Johns Pl between Classon and Franklin Aves, Crown Heights, Brooklyn (718-975-0196). Subway: 2, 3, 4, 5 to Franklin Ave. Mon--Thu, Sun 3pm--2am; Fri, Sat 1pm--4am. Average drink: $6.