Aaron’s department store occupied the big, windowless white building at the corner of 5th Avenue and 17th Street in Brooklyn for decades. (Tagline: “Unless your husband’s in the business, you’re better off at Aaron’s.”) But last year Aaron’s closed and a sign went up that the huge space was for rent. Then, another sign went up: “Southwestern American tapas.” (Please let the trend of calling everything “tapas” end.)
The conversion of the building (it’s been subdivided so that the other half of Aaron’s is still vacant) went on for months. Meanwhile the website was up, complete with menu, and it actually looks pretty interesting: four bean chili with Navajo fry bread, cornmeal crusted catfish, zucchini cakes with corn salsa.
Last night, Ellis Bar finally opened, (now calling its food “new Western tapas”) and I took a peek inside. It looks like a classic bar-restaurant, with darts and a pool table. Nothing high-concept going on design-wise, just a long, dark wood bar and a second room with a bunch of wooden chairs and tables. Meanwhile, signs outside advertised $5 Bacardi. That seems odd to me: Navajo fry bread and $5 Bacardi? I would think those two things appeal to very different customers (although…I like both).
In any case, kudos to the owners for trying out something a little different, food-wise. I’ll go check it out soon.
627 5th Avenue at 17th Street