At first glance, the venerable Long Island Bar (formerly family-run for over 50 years) seems utterly frozen in time with its buffed terrazzo floors, formica tables, and original pink and green signage illuminating the corner of Henry Street and Atlantic Avenue. The latest owners have gone to great pains, after taking up the abandoned lease back in 2013, to restore one of the borough’s last remaining Art Deco diners to its glory days, when it was a hamburger-slinging haven for the area’s working class residents. Now, of course, the neighborhood is anything but working class, and once your eyes adjust to the initial flush of neon, it’s clear you couldn’t be anywhere else but Brooklyn Heights circa 2015, steps away from a luxe branch of Barney’s and a stone’s throw from the revitalized waterfront.
The old-new dissonance continues inside: Instead of rumpled longshoreman, lingering over bottomless cups of coffee or all-day eggs (Long Island Bar 2.0 is only open for dinner, and more recently, brunch), regulars at the newest iteration run to young professionals nursing goblets of Vouvray or frosty tumblers filled with citrusy gimlets, discussing their latest weekend jaunts.
The cocktail menu does a fair bit of winking and nodding, with boulevardiers and daiquiris, grasshoppers and those gimlets, albeit made with top-shelf gin and house-made cordial; a spot like this could never get away with Rose’s. Food offerings, on the other hand, are barely evocative of LIB’s diner past, save for a certain reliance on the deep fryer, and a bit of ill-advised, casual sexism—the “Ladies Burger” comes with one Fleisher’s patty instead of two. But even with a double dose of sustainably-sourced beef, however, $18 seems an incongruous ask—even with the neighborhood’s more recent change of fortune. If you don’t blanch at the price, consider shelling out an extra $2 for a bacon wheel, or $75 towards champagne; just know that Roll n’ Roaster charges $15 less for a frosty bottle of Moët.
But it’s impossible to quibble over pitch-perfect cheese curds; here, the extra-sharp shards are cloaked in buoyant beer batter and are to be plunged into the accompanying creamy-chunky French onion dip. Convinced you’ve identified the restaurant’s raison d’être—i.e, deep-fried dairy—you might be inclined to inquire after a plate of puffed cheddar twists too. “Kind of like high-end Cheez Doodles,” the bartender reveals. “They’re fine.”
110 Atlantic Avenue, Brooklyn Heights