When pressed, most restaurateurs will tell you that their ultimate goal is to create a warm, welcoming, homey environment—a neighborhood hangout where their clientele are not just customers, but friends. That their eatery is really just a casual gathering spot to throw back a couple of beers and share a few bites; or an unpretentious, after-work respite for solo diners to decompress with a plate of half-priced oysters and a glass of wine.
That’s certainly the case at Brooklyn Heights favorite Colonie—the inaugural, 2011 venture for partners Tamer Hamawi, Elise Rosenberg, and Emelie Kihlstrom—who ushered in the reign of Kickstarter as the go-to tool for funding fledgling, DIY businesses.
It might even apply to the four-month-old Gran Electrica, which marked the team’s decent into DUMBO by combining Mexican-accented small plates and fanciful, tequila-based cocktails with an increasing emphasis on tongue-in-chic interior design and a serious love of Flavor Paper.
But somehow, it’s hard to imagine jeans-clad students and cash-poor L Magazine staffers* regularly supping on lobster consommé as they gaze out of the 20 foot high, original arched windows at their recently opened Governor—which sits gorgeous and glittering at the base of the famed Clocktower building at 15 Main St.
Of course, you don’t shell out rent at such a luxe location in one of the most expensive neighborhoods in the city if you’re not relying on well-heeled locals to be the bread (36-hours fermented) and butter (house churned, cheese dusted) of your business.
Day traders will chuckle at the wall of Warhol-esque daguerreotypes in the front entrance, which depict DUMBO-based printing and paper magnate Robert Gair (otherwise known as the Governor), dressed as everything from a Na’vi to Michael Jackson. The fun even continues in the bathroom, where the man himself lounges, Caligula-like, on patterned wallpaper, entwined with a cadre of lusty lady friends.
A trip up the curved staircase to the mezzanine is also good for a thrill—and the chance to watch chef/owner Brad McDonald dazzle in the French-style, open kitchen below. That nouveau riche classic beef tartare—gets a shot of adrenaline with the addition of mussel emulsion and tapioca crackers, and a salt cod mousse with summer beans, preserved lemon, and chorizo oil is as meticulously plated, plotted, and appealing to the eye as the space.
Unfortunately, pleasures such as these are fleeting, unless you have what it takes to be a regular—deep pockets, an abiding love of olde Breukelen history, or a particular passion for daguerreotypes.
*We Brooklyn Magazine staffers, on the other hand, are obscenely wealthy, and under no circumstances are you to assume both publications are put together by the exact same people, because that would be totally crazy!
15 Main St, (718) 858-4756