Self-billed “neighborhood restaurants” are on the rise and, that category’s increasingly nebulous meaning aside, Gus’s Chop House is among Brooklyn’s latest. The follow-up to five-year-old Popina a short distance away opened in August with press materials further asserting Euro bistro influences and sub-expense account spending. New to the former La Cigogne space, its configuration is more or less the same with a lighter coat of paint, fresh banquettes and other furniture and some new cosmetic accents.
On the neighborhood note, it’s been—surprise!—a little hard to get a reservation save for shoulder hours, but things have recently eased up a bit and the elevated veranda, three indoor tables and 11 bar seats are set aside for drop-ins. A great local spot will have a good bar, and Gus’s does. It’s a fine place for superb, blessedly textbook Manhattans ($15) and martinis ($16), or/and romantically solo after-work steaks.
Gus’s has a boeuf duo on its standard menu: a flatiron ($29) and a dry-aged NY strip ($68). A real gem of a tri-tip is only on the Sunday roast menu. The lower-sirloin cut gets the sous vide treatment with herbs and olive oil before a searing turn on the plancha for an uncommonly tender finish nearing incredible. It's sliced and plated with a brothy, appropriately calibrated mushroom gravy. The school night special includes a rich complement of sides like nice fries and Brussels sprouts, terrific creamed spinach and a lovely popover all for $36.
This and other selections (chicken with its head and feet, fish and lamb for around the same price), give what sometimes feels like the saddest trombone dinner of the week more cheer for a relative value. The spread’s so generous you might want to save other snacks and apps for your next visit when a wonderfully juicy thyme and garlic marinated, binchotan-grilled pork shoulder ($28) is on offer.
There is one curiosity among the starters. Picture an NYC chophouse shrimp cocktail. I’d bet a hundred dollars I can guess what you imagined. Gus’s poached crustaceans ($21) are served with cocktail sauce, as expected, but on a plate. Turned on their sides in a circle rather than regally perched on the edge of a glass, it’s a little like being handed a bouquet of half-deflated balloons, though the flavor and texture are fine.
The hash brown with smoked trout roe ($17) is more fun and dynamic. Its crisp, golden block of fried potatoes is topped with crème fraîche and smoked trout roe, bright and bursting. It's a crunchy, creamy, effervescent must.
In addition to its model, if it ain’t broke, don’t over-mix it cocktails, Gus’s lists a couple dozen bottles of wine priced from $48-$99 alongside more expensive varieties. Glasses are mostly in the teens, presented in a carafe-turned sidecar that looks like a healthy extra splash in the world of four-ounce pours outside these doors. Beer and a few zero-ABV drinks are also available.
The Vibe: Comfortable and neighborhoody enough with destination appeal.
The Food: Steaks and chops, a few fish and a head-and-feet-on chicken. The hash brown with smoked trout roe is a standout app.
The Drinks: Excellent classic cocktails, wine and beer.
Time Out Tip: Sunday roast is served with copious sides for a relative song: $33-$37, with a $165 prime rib outlier.
Gus’s Chop House is located at 215 Union Street. It is open Tuesday-Saturday from 5pm-10pm and Sunday from 1pm-8pm.