The all-star team behind Hart's opens The Fly on Thursday.
In New York’s most populous borough, newcomers and longtime residents tilt their halos back and escape the outside world—booze sanctuaries. In Brooklyn bars, you’ll find $5 beer-and-shot specials, cozy cabin vibes, or rotating roster of DJs, but few places are mastering chef-driven food. The team behind Hart’s, a restaurant known for marinated anchovy-laced lamb burgers, bright clams draping crispy bread clouds, citrus-laden olive oil cake, and a nimble spirits list, is poised to change Bedford-Stuyvesant drinking culture with a new bar, named The Fly.
The group’s third venture joins together natural wines and roast chicken. ”We wanted to do a wine bar that was different. We didn’t want to make a French wine bar with dark wood, meats, and cheeses,” said chef-partner Nick Perkins. The 60-seat drinkery has a half-dozen taps, featuring craft beers from Three Brewing and Suarez Family Brewery. A hanging communal menu board spells out wine types, and a paper list is available for in-depth gandering.
“We are drawn to fun, small producers and oddball varieties. The grape might not be super easy to pronounce; that is why we are always trying to bring it down a notch,” said partner Nialls Fallon. He manages the team’s beverage program at Cervo’s, their intimate Manhattan seafood restaurant.
Central Brooklyn is rapidly gentrifying. Ongoing concerns among community-minded residents include the increasing number of straight-ahead watering holes. Brooklyn’s community board #3, a citizen-led advisory group tasked with endorsing businesses applying for New York City’s Alcohol Beverage Control License, often brings up the questions, “Are you hiring from the area?” and, “Will the prices and quality align?”
“We were thinking what can we contribute to the neighborhood and what is approachable,” said Fallon. The Fly has a lower price point than their Mediterranean café, which is a five-minute walk away.
“Overwhelmingly, the people that work at Hart’s live in Bed-Stuy. We have a diverse team that brings different perspectives,” said Nialls. “We are always talking about not making assumptions about who should be in here.” The growing restaurant empire went before the committee this past summer and received a letter of support. The staff strives to roll out the welcome mat and be good stewards. Partner Leah Campbell heads up human resources for all three locations.
“We are a bar that serves rotisserie chicken,” said Fallon. At any given moment, twenty-eight dry-rubbed birds are rotating on the kitchen’s spits. Details like an au jus-like sauce and garlic-laden cream dip for dunking helps sets The Fly apart from the Costco-style weekday dinners that many people associate with rotisserie chicken. Traditional frites amped up with dusted spices, braised greens, and bright salads round out the side offerings.
“Portuguese chicken places put the fries down, put the chicken on top, and sauce the entire thing—we want that messy non-formal feeling,” said Perkins. Vegetables are seasonal and purchased from Pennsylvania farmers. The goal is to use sustainable and naturally raised poultry. Katie Jackson, a chef and partner, will split her time between Hart’s and The Fly.
Sitting on the bordering Clinton Hill section of Brooklyn and commercial-heavy Fulton Street makes the location accessible by public transportation. Adjacent to this project is Green Hill Food Co-Op and a brand-new coffee shop named Always and Forever. The glowing overhaul of the space, formerly known as Alice’s Arbor, still has the obtuse-shaped front window. Inside The Fly, you’ll find the patchwork sliding barn doors gone. The brownstone colored tile work is reminiscent of a quaint cottage’s sun porch floors. The back dining room has frosted light fixtures bulging from stucco textured walls, and a nook area has a tall tower of hard-to-find wine varietals.
The new skylights are a conduit for streaming in daylight and nighttime constellations. Dreamy scenery for having a low-ABV cocktail and waiting for a to-go order—whole banty and potatoes, please. Sidewalk seating will start in the spring. Undoubtedly, flanking an adventure in a glass with rotisserie chicken isn’t rocket science, but aligning with the richness of the familiar and now—gives it flavor.