Restaurants, Contemporary American Williamsburg
4 out of 5 stars
5 out of 5 stars
(4user reviews)
Photograph: Courtesy Ramsey De Give

The whiff of the hipster at Rye is undeniable—note the mismatched flea-market tableware, the salvaged turn-of-the-20th-century decor, the signless exterior. The vibe could easily inspire skepticism, if not slight intimidation. And yet the three-month-old American bistro from chef Cal Elliott (DuMont, Dressler) is unexpectedly egalitarian. This could stem from the simple fact that the chef-owner has prepared a menu of high-quality, delicious food at a very reasonable price point. An artichoke stew reminded us of an update of DuMont’s signature white-bean and artichoke salad; only in place of delicately fried baby artichokes and toothsome legumes, Rye offers fragrant artichoke hearts in their braising liquid with firm flageolet beans, highly concentrated oven-roasted tomatoes and a splash of basil oil. Another generous starter featured grilled sardine fillets heaped over zingy preserved tomatoes on a thick slice of country bread, drizzled with salsa verde. Elliott shows as much confidence executing bar food as he does with refined fare. The same chef who created a sandwich of melting short ribs with creamy garlic-horseradish vinaigrette excelled at delicate butter-poached lobster with citrusy corn salsa, sweet corn flan and a crme frache--enriched avocado mousse. The cocktails, created by Dram’s Tom Chadwick, featured a tight list of both classic and original concoctions worthy of the antique setting. We savored the Hemingway, an ambrosial blend of white rum, maraschino liqueur, and grapefruit and lime juices. There were some glitches—too many dishes on the menu were no longer being offered the night we visited, resulting in a somewhat annoying, lengthy recitation of omissions and additions. And when it came to dessert, the most tantalizing offering on the short list, the doughnuts, was already sold out. An overly sweet steamed lemon cake with berries and whipped cream, though pretty as a picture, was all texture (intriguingly airy) with very little flavor (where was the tang?), and a warm chocolate cake, though perfectly good, was just a warm chocolate cake. Despite those shortcomings, there is real talent and pride coming from the kitchen at Rye. It’s a restaurant that projects a quality all too rare among the hipster brood: sincerity.

By: Time Out New York editors


Venue name: Rye
Address: 247 South 1st St
Cross street: between Havemeyer and Roebling Sts
Opening hours: Mon – Thu 5:30pm – 11pm; Fri, Sat 5:30pm - 12am; Sun 5:30pm - 10:30pm; Sat, Sun brunch 11am
Transport: Subway: L to Bedford Ave
Price: Average main course: $18. Disc, MC, V
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Average User Rating

4.8 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:3
  • 4 star:1
  • 3 star:0
  • 2 star:0
  • 1 star:0
1 person listening

Super dim lighting makes this place a no-no for the insta-loving diner, such as myself, but it does create a rustic romance feel. 

The staff was super friendly and very attentive. 

I came here with two friends for dinner.  We ordered the mac and cheese and two of the meatloaf sandwiches that have been the star of almost every other review.  I actually was not a huge fan of the meatloaf.  It was plated so pretty too, but there was some sort of sauce or pickle on the loaf and it had an almost sour/pickled taste.  (This was also my first time ever having meatloaf so maybe that is what it just tastes like?).  On top of the loaf was a heaping pile of onion rings that were super yummy.  I really wish I got a picture of it, it was the prettiest meatloaf sandwich I ever saw.  I was actually the only one who didn't like it.  The bread was also super fresh. 

For dessert, we ordered the fresh doughnuts.  They came out piping hot (which I loved) and had a coating of powdered sugar on them.  They were amazing.  Not too sweet at all and the perfect end to a meal.

Rye is a great spot for a dinner date in Williamsburg. It feels like a speakeasy with nice old furniture and fixtures – down to the mismatched silverware. It has a dimly lit, quiet vibe, but it’s fine for small groups too. The bartenders and wait staff are very knowledgeable and helpful. In terms of the food, the meatloaf sandwich is my absolute favorite - it’s on a perfectly crispy baguette and covered with crispy onion strings and horseradish. It’s great to split along with the seasonal pasta – often different and always good. Order the dessert donuts if you want something smallish and sweet to share after dinner!  Also, one of the best happy hours in Williamsburg - $5 burgers and $5 old fashions!

I went here in February with my husband and sister and wow, the food an service were wonderful.  Unusual dishes that were cooked to perfection.