Chack has been cooking for 10 years, most recently at the 92Y Tribeca. He and Roth chose Prospect Heights for their new restaurant for a multitude of reasons, benefits of the area including: a gentrifying neighborhood, growing Jewish modern orthodox community, and the ability to appeal to the local non-Jewish crowd as well. They hope to do that with a very casual, cool, and hip atmosphere, seating between 35-40, plus 10 more in their outdoor space out back. The location of the restaurant, on Washington Ave – about 5 blocks north of the Brooklyn Museum & Prospect Park (see map below), makes it ideal to reach a demographic of diners that don’t have access to what Mason & Mug will have to offer. The restaurant is in a former non-kosher eatery, that is currently undergoing renovations for a late October / early November launch. (We’ll update this post when an official opening date is announced).
The restaurant is being designed in such a way that the kitchen will be accessible to all who come in, something that doesn’t really exist in the kosher restaurant world. The restaurant will not have table service (i.e. no waiters), not fast food, more small plates style. He admits that the restaurant is not catered to families, but it will be catered to individuals, couples, and groups of friends. The inspiration is Spanish tapas: cheap, casual, easy, small dishes. The menu is intended to be constantly changing, even daily, adapting to local produce and what’s available. He intends on posting their daily menus to their Facebook & Twitter accounts.
As for the food, the intention is to have dishes that pair well with beer and wine (which will be for sale) + bar snacks like candied walnuts coated with rosemary & sugar. Most dishes will be “appetizer-sized”. House drinks may include fresh lemonades, sake cocktails, and non-alcoholic cocktails, think frozen watermelon granita, as well as pick me ups like espresso, americano, and machiato.
The biggest distinction one will notice is that the food is almost entirely vegetarian (or pescatarian really since they will serve fish), occasionally including cheese into their dishes. Eggs will be included in many of their dishes so they will definitely not be vegan. (This move, I believe, is a strategic one, opening up their doors not only to Jews of all types, but also to many of the locals looking for tasty vegetarian options).
Food items that could be mainstays on the menu may include:
- Southern California style fish tacos
- Grilled cheese
- Gravlax, and other smoked fish platters
- and others
They’ll be procuring fresh and smoked fish from local Brooklyn fish markets fresh.
Prices for the dishes are estimated to average around $6.50 each, with local ($5-6) and European beers ($8-10) also available in store.
The kashrut of the restaurant is still not settled, but we will update this post once that is announced. Chack let me know that all products used will only be from top level kashrut agencies that are widely accepted by the community. While the dairy dishes will not Cholov Yisroel exclusively, they may have carry Cholov Yisroel products.
In addition to the restaurant portion of the store, they will also have a commissary / small market with kosher pre-packaged goods available for purchase including: Dips, jams, fresh breads, challahs, homemade pickles, plus specialty kosher products that aren’t widely available.
When I asked Sasha about the name “Mason & Mug” and what it represents he concluded:
Mason Jars represent: Pickling, Canning, Homemade Food. And Mug: a mug of beer, rustic and simple. Both, together, give an indication of the casual and DIY place that we’re building.
The restaurant plans on starting with just evening service, open from 4pm – 12am, working on eventually expanding their hours to include lunch and breakfast. They will be open Motzei Shabbat for this season, unsure about Summertime yet.
In the coming weeks, after the restaurant has opened, we hope to visit, write back, and review this new kosher concept in Prospect Heights.
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