The Early Word: Draft Barn


The best thing I ate at Draft Barn: Beer croutons (brown bread, deep-fried, salted)

Draft Barn, a new addition to 3rd Avenue in Gowanus, Brooklyn, looks a little bit like a set piece from one of those medieval playacting groups. It’s cavernous and spare, with stone arches, wooden chandeliers and long tables with benches running alongside. Oddly, there are also several flatscreens, which were playing Spiderman last night.

More importantly Draft Barn offers 250 beers, some on tap, most in bottles, from brewers all over the US and Europe. The owners are Hungarian, so there’s an emphasis on Eastern European beers, and there’s also an insanely hearty Hungarian menu.

This is not prettied-up Hungarian food. This is food geared toward the tattooed guy at the next table with a large scar across his cheek. So if you don’t like grease and things like pig’s knuckles, avert your delicate eyes. A photo tour of our meal, after the jump. 

We had a round of Belgian and German beers first, with a basket of beer croutons (above). Chewy, crunchy, fennel-seeded brown bread, deep-fried and liberally salted.

Then we had this silky, deliciously fishy pickled herring (hiding under onion slices) and some limp potato wedges that were either fried badly or roasted with tons of oil.

Here you have your “gypsy steak.” It’s a gargantuan piece of pork shoulder, pounded to about an inch thick, and stuffed with a mixture of onion, bacon and crumbled Hungarian sausage. The sausage is amazing. The whole bit is, well, a little bit much, even for me. You might find it tough and greasy, but if you’ve had enough beer, it might be just what you need. The potato wedges were much better this time around (clearly roasted).

Last but not least, the pork knuckle–it’s just exactly what you think it’s going to be: A fresh pork hock, roasted until the skin is burnished and crisp. The meat underneath is rich, gamey and almost purple-ish. Sauerkraut, always welcome.

Draft Barn
530 Third Avenue, Brooklyn

Most Popular