The Brooklyn Flea brand has been a steadily evolving, omnipresent force on the New York dining scene for five years now, overseeing multiple, seasonal markets, and funneling their vendors into both grocery stores and event spaces, such as Whole Foods, Central Park Summerstage and Jones Beach. But it wasn’t until this Wednesday that they finally launched a permanent, year-round presence for their business, called Berg’n, an expansive food court and beer hall in Crown Heights.
At first glance, the 9,000-sq. ft. space seems awfully ambitious for this fringe corner of the neighborhood, outfitted with massive, dark-wood communal tables and boasting a sizable bar area, lots of counter seating, and a sprawling, open-air courtyard. But come six o’ clock, it quickly grows clear that Berg’n needs every last inch of that real estate, when lines begin snaking down towards Franklin, and even a lone stool propped against a wall by the bathrooms becomes a hard-won prize.
The beer selection is solid (it should be, considering it’s curated by Brooklyn Brewery’s Garrett Oliver) if not especially unique —craft darlings such as Sixpoint Sweet Action, Bell’s Two Hearted Ale, and of course, BB’s own Sorachi Ace, are all present and accounted for. And the offerings at the six-strong selection of in-house vendors should be wholly familiar to anyone who’s ever stepped foot in Smorgasburg.
There’s Mighty Quinn’s of course, undoubtedly Smorg’s greatest success story, who quickly expanded from a single smoker on the Williamsburg waterfront to stands and storefronts throughout the city. And, as always, their unimpeachable pulled pork and brisket are fail-safe favorites, served alongside sweet potato mash and burnt ends baked beans. Another longtime Flea tenant, AsiaDog, also scored a spot at Berg’n, peddling staples like the VINH (a banh mi-styled weiner), alongside Korean-inspired burgers, Japanified corn dogs, a duo of chicken sandwiches, and even a dessert; a oozing banana spring roll served with dark chocolate sauce. Pizza Moto brings creatively topped slices and rounds (provided your crew can manage to secure enough table space for one), although the whole, charred heads of cinnamon-scented cauliflower propped on the counter prove equally alluring. Then there’s the infamous Ramen Burger, whose signature, crispy noodle-encased patties attracted Cronut-level crowds at Smorgasburg, allowing owner Keizo Shimamoto to expand on his dubious concept with brothless, ground beef-topped bowls, a ramen salad, and even ramen fries, cut from a stack of pre-formed cakes, showered with scallions and squiggled with spicy mayo (we’d sooner stick with potatoes). And Parlor Coffee and Blue Marble ice cream bookend Berg’ns day-to-night concept, supplementing their menus with goodies from a bevy of other established, Smorgasburg suppliers (Dough, White Moustache Yogurt, Early Bird Granola), and even hosting regular weekend pop-ups featuring the Brooklyn Oyster Party.
Ugh, the weekends. Berg’n might just have to start searching for a few extra thousand square feet in Crown Heights.