Review: Federal Bar

Read the recent restaurant review from one of the finalists in our Food and Drink critic competition
Federal Bar
Photograph: Courtesy Black and Steil
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Metropolitan Avenue’s newest kitchen, attached to music venue the Knitting Factory, is a Los Angeles transplant—but with its heavy, gastropub-style menu complete with bespoke cocktails, you’d never know it.

The restaurant's smooth transition from La-La Land into the Williamsburg fold was undoubtedly made easier by chef Brendon Doyle, formerly of the popular BBQ Spot, Pork Slope. Elevated bar food is nothing new, but Doyle does manage to make old American classics feel new again by borrowing liberally from cultures far and wide; take the corn-dog, for example: Here it is, stuffed with lamb merguez and rescued from death-by-breading with a wonderful olive tzatziki—and suddenly, a corndog is more Grecian than American.

Federal’s use of local purveyors and house-made ingredients serve to bind a smattering of multicultural appropriations to the loose spine of a somewhat-American menu; house-made B&B pickles, root beer onions and LaFrieda patties ground dishes that would otherwise feel scatterbrained.

But the drink list is far more successful at serving New Yorkers a taste of New York. Almost every beer is borough-brewed (cleverly listed by neighborhood, not state), and cocktails like the Rock and Rye hit all the right notes. 

Shawn McCreesh
Photograph: Courtesy Shawn McCreesh/David Carr

By Shawn McCreesh

Shawn McCreesh is a writer—and a waiter—living in Brooklyn. Yelp is the bane of his existence.

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