Some thought the day would never arrive, but after much delay, plenty of contention, and a name change, Woodland opened Monday on the corner of Sixth and Flatbush, in the pace last occupied by Royal Video.
It's a massive venue, with seating for a couple hundred across two levels and an outdoor garden, and the Director of Operations for the restaurant group that owns it, Brendan Spiro, also owns East Village gem Vandaag. There's a 12-seat bar up front, serving craft beers and specialty cocktails like the Forest Julep (made with apricot-infused bourbon, rosemary and walnut bitters), big windows that open up to the sidewalk, and a large backyard where you can find burgers, brats, and weiners cooking on a large open grill. Downstairs there's a lounge where live DJs will provide the entertainment, and at night live music will take the stage in the main dining room. There's also a 30-seat private dining room, which will host private parties as well as events like wine and cheese tastings.
Chef Merrill Moore comes from Tulum, Mexico's well-known Hartwood restaurant, and seventh generation Irish butcher Jack O'Shea, who oversees the restaurant's "meat program," also supplies meat to star chefs Fergus Henderson and Heston Blumenthal in London.
Spiro put a lot of work into finding a top-notch kitchen crew, and the creative (if pricey) menu (below, click for a larger version) definitely highlights their areas of expertise, namely meat.
There's braised rabbit, a Berkshire pork chop, Label Rouge chicken, lamb T-bone, bullet steak, and a select-a-size NY Strip ranging from 24-58 ounces (that 58 ouncer will set you back $150 and is the biggest in the area). There's also a whimsical assortment of apps and sides, including clams & crayfish, homemade bratwurst, venison tartare, smoked quail eggs, grilled oysters, and caviar with a vodka shot. This is a very luxurious restaurant, and a meal here will most definitely set you back.
This is a new type of restaurant for the neighborhood: sprawling, multi-level, glamorous, pricey. But it's anything but inaccessible: the front room, with its exposed brick, bar tables, and long bar, is an inviting place to down a creative cocktail, snack on a grilled cheese, and throw back a few oysters. Come late night, though, it'll be interesting to see how it all comes together.
Woodland, 242 Flatbush Avenue Brooklyn NY 11217. 718-398-7700. Open at 5PM daily.