If you pass by Williamsburg’s craft beer mecca D.B.A. Brooklyn on a warm Friday night and peek in to see a tattooed crowd listening to hard rock and drinking harder alcohol, you’re not looking close enough.
Stepping up through the door into the dimly lit space, try not to get distracted by the seemingly endless beer selection, each of the 127 options spelled out on a chalkboard with names like Weihenstephaner and Gaverhopke Koerseklakske. Someone clearly spent time honing their penmanship in afterschool detention. Keeping your eyes front and center, ignore the temptation to sit down and play Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots, and head toward the light of the backyard patio, where your reward will be a delicious combination of cultures that goes by the name of Lucy Roux. Though the pop-up has only existed for a few weeks, the camaraderie its founders share with one another has been building for more than five years.
For Leah Word and Julio Marcial, finding a connection through cooking was the easy part. After meeting and cooking for each other, the couple noticed the similarities between the ingredients and techniques of Word’s native Cajun and Creole cuisine and that of Marcial’s native Dominican Republic. The Dominican dishes Marcial grew up with, such as bacalaitos—a combination of fried codfish, onion, and red pepper—emphasized spice and seafood in a manner with which Word was all too familiar. Their mothers also share the name Lucy, further bonding their passion for introducing family favorites to complete strangers. Plus, it made the decision easier when choosing a name to market their idea. After organizing several cooking-competition fundraisers around New York City, the ambitious couple decided to take their well-received menus to a central location that spoke to the feeling of celebrating a home away from home.
Though D.B.A. may look like another Brooklyn beer bar slightly off the beaten path, Louisiana expats looking for the Big Easy in the Big Apple know better. The bar, which has sister locations in the East Village and New Orleans, is a destination for watching NFL Saints games and listening to dirty funk and Zydeco bands. Word considered no other place when determining where to set up shop for a weekly pop-up. With the success of Tchoup Shop, another weekly pop-up with Cajun- and Creole-inspired roots operating out of Bushwick’s Heavy Woods, and D.B.A.’s desire to offer thematically appropriate food options, the bridge from the bayou to Santo Domingo—and Cajun pasta salad to empanadas—became a lot more conceivable.
After negotiating with ownership, the duo had a location with storage for a deep fryer. The challenges of setting up and breaking down a table filled with food equipment and fresh ingredients, however, had just begun. Scenarios such as “Where’s the bread?” when catfish po’ boy sliders are leading the menu presented themselves (some elements of a pop-up are occasionally dependent on others). Or having to develop what Word and Marcial refer to as a “gumbo arm” to safely transport the dish through chaotic New York traffic. In just a couple weeks, though, the couple has adapted nicely to the challenge of creating an ever-changing menu after coming home from their full-time jobs. Word is a graphic designer by trade, which comes in handy when designing Lucy Roux’s promotional materials, while Marcial’s jovial manner with customers is the result of his work in the food and beverage industry. Even with bad weather and L train issues over Memorial Day weekend, the pair almost sold out of Sunday brunch, though they had enough food on reserve to break out select dishes at different moments, helping customers avoid disappointment.
Wondering which beer pairs best with the newest trifecta of “c” cuisine: Cajun, Creole, and Caribbean? When in doubt, opt for Louisiana’s own Abita Purple Haze, a wheat beer with raspberry purée added after filtration. Lucy Roux pops up Friday evenings from 6:30 to 9:30 for dinner service, with brunch on Saturday from 2 to 8 p.m. and Sundays beginning at 1:30 p.m. Freshly baked empanadas are also available most weekdays.