Black Swan flew in (ha!) a bit under my radar. I had no idea it existed until seeing it mentioned on Clinton Hill Blog recently, after which I noticed that Babes Who Brunch had already written it up. Since it's really close by, I regret by being beaten to the punch. Twice. By girls.
Kudos to them, though, and I'm glad someone finally let me know about it at any rate. Last night I gave it a try for the first time.
Black Swan's atmosphere is a bit mixed, like it can't decide if it would rather be a restaurant or a bar. It's a long, narrow space divided in half, with a short corridor bordering the kitchen connecting the two spaces. Up front is a good looking but small bar, with a great beer list and what looked like decent liquor, though I didn't give it a close inspection. In the back is a restaurant that while nice, feels more like a tavern than anything else. The high wood booths, long tables, and butcher paper placemats send a very "pub food" message. I liked it though, and I think it would make a good place to watch a bit game. With a special going on for the stupid Lebron special as well as huge signage for the World Cup, they seem to have the same idea.
One thing I really didn't like about the physical space was the seating in the booths. The benches are unconscionably narrow, making it feel like you're perched on a ledge the whole time. That's no way to enjoy a meal! I feel like maybe it should be a minor thing, but my ass was killing me by the end of dinner and it really affected my enjoyment of the night. Aside from the booths and long tables with benches, there were a number of traditional tables. I suggest you demand one of those if you stop in.
The menu is brisk - it'll take you more time to decide on a beer or bottle of wine than it will to pick your food, I imagine. That's more a reflection on the extensive beer and wine lists than it is a criticism of the menu, though. Many of my favorite neighborhood restaurants have really brief menus, and I'd always rather have a few great choices than 15 pages of uninspired nincompoopery.
Liv did mention that it would have been nice to have a specialty cocktail menu. I told her they'd make whatever she wanted, but I guess she needs interesting drink names (The Excelsior!) and odd liquor combinations (passion fruit schnapps, Asian pear bitters, and just a *hint* of Central American vodka!) to be happy.
How about the food? To start, we had fried catfish fingers which were on special. I've now had catfish fingers/fritters at three neighborhood restaurants, and while these were certainly good and worth ordering, I'm not sure they're better than the fritters at EN or the fingers at Two Steps Down. They were very spicy and I have no real complaints, but both EN and Two Steps Down blew me away with theirs. Still, I'd order these ones again.
For her entree, Liv had the Curry Chicken Salad Sandwich, which came with some uninspired mixed greens. The actual chicken salad was very interesting and didn't disappoint, but it came on this roll for which it was really ill-suited. The roll was big and dense and with every bite it felt like you got way more bun than anything else. For this kind of sandwich I'd have much preferred something like the light, crispy brioche roll that Poppa's Place (or Cornerstone or whatever it's called now) uses for their pulled pork sandwich. Liv suggested a thin piece of rye might do the trick, and I agreed. Anything but this massive whole wheat sponge. The dish was made better by tossing half the bun aside, frankly.
I had the BK Chop, and it was really good. It came with candied sweet potatoes and spicy green beans, and the sweet potatoes especially were really great. While expensive, it's a good pork chop and I'd recommend it.
The menu also had good-sounding burger and a spicy chicken dish that was tempting, as well as a couple of steaks. Nothing really jumped out at me, but if the burger's good I could see Black Swan becoming a good "burger and a beer" place to watch a game. For $17 you can get the burger and a Six Point Righteous Ale, and that's not a bad way to spend $17.
Black Swan was a little disappointing in some ways, but I'm not really sure what I was expecting. It's a little classier than your typical bar food joint, but I'm not sure if that makes it a better choice than Rustik or the Brooklyn Public House. It's more expensive, and the food didn't really blow me away. If you live close by, definitely give it a try, but I'm not sure it's a better place to watch a game than Moe's or Mullane's and the food isn't as good as Cornerstone, Aqualis, or Number 7, while still being in that general price range. Not bad, but hard to justify a long trip out with so many other good options nearby.
1048 Bedford Ave