Greenwood Park has a novel fence constructed of shipping skids.
Sandwiched between Green-Wood Cemetery and the Prospect Expressway, Brooklyn’s latest beer garden, Greenwood Park, began life as an auto garage. The building reflects this, with the roll-up doors still intact. Outside, picnic tables are scattered across a courtyard that also boasts three bocce courts — the acreage is so large, the playing fields take up only a fraction of the space. Raised electric heaters like mushrooms promise seating late into the autumn and beginning in early spring.
The spacious interior
Inside, the use of space is luxuriant, with raised tables flanked by backless stools. There’s also a bar along the back wall with more comfortable seating. On Sunday afternoons, the place functions as a sports bar; most of the customers sit along the counter, eyes glued to a pair of monitors tuned to different games.
A friend and I visited on the Sunday as Sandy was approaching. We drank, ate, and played bocce, aware of the strange limpid atmosphere outside. A sense of urgency prevailed on my part — the subways were shutting down at 7, and the weather was odd in a disturbing sort of way — but no one sitting inside or outside seemed worried.
The tap-beer list runs to 24 varieties, most available as pints for $6, and pitchers for $18. Not bad prices, but the place is obscurely located and takes quite a hike from the subway. Moreover, the selection is quirky and not necessarily in a pleasing way. My friend and I — who is a big beer fan — scratched our heads and lingered over the list, trying to decide what to order.
My pint of Green Flash West Coast I.P.A. had out-of-control hops.
Turn the page for more beer.
Buffalo on the left, Sriracha on the right. The Buffalo were better.
There’s no Dogfish Head, for example, or Bear Republic or Lagunitas products; instead, a quirky selection from other craft brewers distributing nationally, favoring heavier brews. You could get a Stone Smoked Porter, a Peak Organic Fall Summit Ale, and something from a brewery I hadn’t heard of, a Green Flash West Coast I.P.A. that was hoppy beyond belief.
As befits a true beer garden, there were lighter German beers (Radeberger Pils, Weiherstephaner Dunkel, Hofbrau Hefe Weizen), spotty Belgian beers (Duvel, Stella Artois, Hoegaarden), and a section devoted to a locavoric selection that seemed to pluck the most obvious variety from each producer (Six Point Sweet Action, Kelso Pilsner, Captain Lawrence Liquid Gold). In short, the list played to the grandstands without offering the sort of brilliant but lesser-known bottles of favorite brewers, or things you didn’t know about that turn out to be great.
The food was another story. Cheap and good, without being pretentious, it was the best part of the afternoon. There were dueling chicken wings that are a frequent special (two for $1): Pick either conventional Buffalo or a too-sweet Sriracha. The hamburger ($7), though slightly overdone, was nicely garnished and smoky from the flame grill. The onion rings were just as greasy as you might have hoped, and there were french fries and sweet-potato fries and a hot dog, too.
Altogether a nice place to spend a quiet afternoon as a hurricane approaches. As I looked out the window, a family was seen pushing a stroller through the gates and into the outdoor area. “What a great place for kids to play and goof around!” I exclaimed. “That was a point of contention when the place first opened,” my friend noted. “For a while, children were prohibited at certain hours, and there was a fierce battle between hipsters and breeders. Finally, the breeders won.”
The well-dressed burger
555 Seventh Avenue
Southwest Windsor Terrace, Brooklyn