It’s tough to find a blind spot in Brooklyn’s formidable dining catalogue, being that you can locate everything from Uzbeki to Ghanaian to Burmese cuisine. But Welsh food? It’s been pretty much the exclusive purview of Bay Ridge’s soccer and whiskey-loving pub, Longbow–and save for rarebit (that rustic staple of toasted bread, topped with béchamel-thickened cheese) it’s hard to winnow a distinctly Welsh identity from Brit classics like Shepherd’s pie, bacon butty and curried chips.
There’s no mistaking the lineage of Smith Street newcomer, Sunken Hundred, however, the name a reference to a legendary Welsh myth, of a fertile kingdom lost to a raging sea. It’s run by a pair of mellifluous-accented brothers, Illtyd and Dominic Barrett, who’ve convincingly conjured their native lands with a bar carved from 700-year old hemlock and tables crafted from oak (a symbol of Merlin and Wales’ national tree), as well as a duo of curved, pillow-anointed cwtches–Welsh for “to hug”–by the windows, bordered by a lending library of Welsh fairytales (the penalty for late returns is buying the bar a round).
Then, you have the menu–presided over by former Txikito, Seamstress and La Vara chef, Tom Coughlan–which owes exceedingly little to the deep fat fryer, not to mention lard-based pastry and minced mystery meat. Boasting over 1,680 miles of coastline, Wales is predominantly comprised of fishing villages and port towns; which Sunken Hundred honors with sautéed squid arrayed with apricots, almonds and romesco sauce (a nod to ties with Northern Spain), seared mackerel glazed with whiskey and strewn with cilantro, and a lineup of dainty razor clams, anointed with charred lemon, chervil and puddles of spiced lamb jus.
But perhaps the most notable Welsh import (sourced from Pembrokeshire Beach Food Company, based near the Barretts’ hometown) is seaweed–including flat sheets of laver, whipped with butter to poach flaky filets of hake, as well as meaty dulse, used to cure bits of pork belly, dotting saucers of calvados-steamed mussels, and crispy kelp, infused into the bitters that underscore The Seithennin (Lost to the Sea) cocktail, containing gin, chartreuse and laver oil, and rimmed with laver dust. Seaweed is even incorporated into a brilliant, gratis bar snack, adding an explicit umami element to a jumble of gnarled, cheeto-esque puffs.
So instead of being an occasional stopover for a soccer tourney, or a bit of a lark on St. David’s Day, consider Sunken Hundred your new Smith Street local. Iechyd da!
276 Smith St., (718) 722-1069