Fans of the perfect mojito (“the best in Nueva York!”) rejoice. Ideya, which brought Latin-Caribbean flavor to Soho for 14 years until it was forced to close at the end of 2012, just reopened in a new location in Prospect Heights.
Owner Lauryn Small grew up in Miami, and she says her love of Latin-Caribbean culture must represent “something of a past life.” That passion led her to travel extensively through Latin America, to obtain her masters in Latin-Caribbean literature, and open a restaurant dedicated to the culture’s “colorful, festive” food.
But last fall brought a string of bad luck–first a boiler explosion, then flooding and forced closure from Hurricane Sandy–and the restaurant permanently closed its doors in November. “It was literally the perfect storm of things that said, Well, it was time for us to leave,” remembers Small. But there was never any doubt about what she would do next: “I knew that if I was going to relocate, I wanted to come to Brooklyn.”
Ideya Brooklyn opened two weeks ago, and it is settling into its home on the corner of Flatbush and Carlton, the same colorful paintings from the old space affixed to the walls. On warm nights, two garage doors open to the street. The new location brings Small home (she has lived in Brooklyn for 18 years), and coaxes old Soho regulars out to the other borough. And because those regulars come in demanding their favorites, like salmón tropical or the coco mojo (coconut rum and coconut cream with lime juice and mint), the menu remains largely unchanged. In addition to the classics, however, the new location will draw inspiration from bistro culture, and the menu will be infused with some West Indian influences, like a refreshing ceviche Caribe with citrus-and-passionfruit-marinated scallops, or a jerk-spiced pork chop.
It’s not just regulars who are coming back; Ideya’s executive chef, Isaac Reyes, stayed on, along with his sous chef (who is also his brother). Some former Ideya employees are even investors in the new space. For Small, “it’s really a family affair.”
The restaurant has been open daily for dinner for about two weeks, and this weekend, it will roll out brunch (items include pancakes with banana fritas and the Morir Soñando, an orange juice milkshake with cinnamon sugar), which it will serve Saturdays and Sundays from 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Lunch service debuts on Monday and will run weekdays from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. Ideya will also offer sidewalk seating after the days begin to cool a bit.