Located across the street from McCarren Park in Williamsburg, Annicka sounds like a restaurant somebody invented to make fun of Brooklyn. It’s jointly-owned by Greenpoint Beer & Ale, a brewery nearby, and North Brooklyn Farms, an urban farm underneath the Williamsburg Bridge where they grow herbs and sunflowers and host supper clubs and yoga. Not simultaneously, although probably someday.
As you might expect given those facts, Annicka has an extreme focus on local ingredients, including alcohol. This is a great place to try some wine from New York, so you can start making comments that will mildly impress people, such as “The Finger Lakes are the new Sonoma.” Lots of Greenpoint Beer & Ale options are on tap, and the cocktail list is also pretty long, considering every liquor on it was made in New York too.
But what’s more interesting about Annicka is its food. Much of the menu is just really good produce, like the dandelion greens salad, a simple but great bowl of strawberries, beets, and tomatoes, and fried mushrooms on top of a khao-soi-like sauce that we’ll come back just to eat. In other words, vegan people will be happy here. But if you want a steak tonight, you can (usually) get that at Annicka too. There are always at least several proteins on the menu, like a pork chop, a ribeye, a nice piece of fish, or fried “wedding rice” with stewed beef. The ideal Annicka order is a mix of things from each category.
The menu changes constantly, depending on what’s in season. But at Annicka, that’s not just something your server lectures mindlessly like he’s already repeated himself 75 times tonight. In fact, there’s no spiel here, and the menu doesn’t even say much beyond the main ingredients in the dishes. Instead of acting like it’s some sort of extra-special restaurant with an extra-special agenda, Annicka’s just here to casually feed you farm-fresh food like it’s a thing everyone else does too.
That’s another reason we like this place: it’s relaxed. Annicka has a big open space, with a bar area in the center of the restaurant and a front patio filled with colorful furniture. Considering both the outdoor area and the inferiority of winter produce, you’ll realize Annicka is at its best when it’s warm outside. Take advantage while you can.
There’s a lot happening in this bowl, and even after eating it twice, we can’t identify about half of it. But it involves smashed cucumbers, peanuts, and mint. This is a refreshing-but-savory thing to start your meal off with.
This could be a trigger for anyone who has a fear of certain foods touching each other. (Also, is there a word for that fear? There should be.) The strawberries, tomatoes, and beets are swimming in a pool of beet juice and topped with edible flowers, and eating this will make you feel like you just completed a cleanse. Without the starvation and emotional trauma.
You usually don’t see bok choy in raw, salad form. You also don’t usually see it topped with salty cheese and dill. So we’d recommend this salad if you want to try new things - but it’s also not necessary.
Our favorite dish at Annicka, and probably the biggest reason we’ll come back here to eat again. The deep-fried mushrooms are excellent, but even better is the curry sauce sitting below them. It tastes like khao-soi, and we don’t want to ever eat fried mushrooms without it again.
We are happy to report that the black sauce at the bottom of this dish doesn’t have anything to do with activated charcoal - it’s just black tahini, and it’s very delicious. This is one of the only menu items that seems to stick around throughout the seasons.
One of the bigger, heartier dishes at Annicka, this is a crispy rice shell filled with fluffy rice, pistachios, and big chunks of braised meat, and topped with a yogurt sauce and lots of herbs. It tends to be a little bit dry, but the flavors are excellent.
This is exactly the kind of balance you’ll find at Annicka, all on one plate. It’s a fried pork chop - but with bitter, well-dressed lettuce leaves on the side. We are grateful for the person at our dinner table who realized that the best way to eat this is taco-style, with the pork wrapped up in the lettuce. We can’t all be pioneers.
The best part of this dish is the stewed lentils with green beans underneath the chicken. Lentils are great - but not great enough for you to order this. The chicken doesn’t have a lot of flavor, and it’s a small portion for $28. Skip.
The chocolate sauce is much less like hot fudge and more like dark chocolate milk. 10/10 would drink.