DINING OUT: No holds barred New Orleans at NoBar
Southern-inspired food is all the rage in Brooklyn foodie and restaurant circles, but at Crown Heights’ NoBar, the menu is not merely ‘inspired’ by its Louisiana roots—it is from New Orleans.
That is because owners Anthony Mackie – a native New Orleansian who is also known as Falcon in the “Captain America” movie franchise – and Don Bowie believe in authenticity, from the hand-hewn tables and bar built by Mackie to the shrimp, catfish and other seafood shipped in from the Gulf of Mexico.
“Soul food or Creole food is indigenous to the area [around New Orleans], so it is hard to create if you don’t know what it is supposed to taste like,” said Bowie, who grew up with it while living in Georgia and Texas. “It’s a fine line. Some folks are afraid to season it properly, but it’s not supposed to be bland or over-salted.”
Signature dishes at NoBar include Shrimp and Grits ($14) – “a lot of people come in and say they don’t like grits,” said Bowie, “but I’ve converted them” – and traditional, real New Orleans Seafood Gumbo ($16) with shrimp, blue crab, crawfish and chicken Andouille sausage.
NoBar’s Bayou Burger ($12) also has a Cajun-themed twist and three different cuts of beef, the Po-boys (shrimp or catfish, $12) are a popular standard and the Fried Catfish Fingers ($9) with homemade tartar sauce are a must-have bar snack or appetizer.
The aforementioned shrimp and grits are definitely a stand-out, with spice-rubbed shrimp tender to the teeth and creamy, yet savory, grits that blow any and all imitations out of the water.
No bar menu would be complete without chicken wings and NoBar’s Bourbon Wings ($9) kick it up a notch with the perfect balance of sweetness and spice. The Mac and Cheese ($6) is a delight, with optional crawfish, bacon or chicken Andouille sausage, and the Red Beans and Rice ($6) is as comforting as one would expect.
Wash it all down with NoBar’s fantastic full bar selection of “old and new Brooklyn” drafts, bourbons, gins, bottled beers and various spirits indigenous to Louisiana. Signature cocktails include the NoBar ($12) – a ginger beer/bourbon/muddled lemon/butters concoction that is strong and tangy with a touch of carbonation – and the Bowie Bowie ($12) made with Kentucky Bourbon Ale. There is also a traditional Hurricane ($12) served in a large hurricane glass.
NoBar opened in 2011 as a dive bar, but was revamped this summer to its current incarnation, with the new menu, live music, karaoke, trivia nights and more. Bowie noted that now, “Business is four times as good as it was before.”
Things are doing so well, in fact, that NoBar Williamsburg is set to open by September at South Second Street and Driggs Avenue. The new space won’t have live music, but the bigger kitchen means a more extensive menu – including crab and crawfish boils in the large backyard.
608 Nostrand Avenue
Open daily at 5 p.m.
Last call at 1:45 a.m. (Sunday-Thursday) and 3:45 a.m. (Friday-Saturday)
Weekend brunch from noon to 4 p.m.
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