Whether you live nearby or it takes you two subway transfers and a stroke of luck to get there in under an hour, you probably find yourself in need of a casual date spot in Williamsburg fairly often. You could go to a sit-down restaurant, but then you’d risk waiting 20 minutes for the check after your date makes that second comment about the occult. You could also go to a wine bar, but you want to eat something a little more exciting than a $32 charcuterie plate with three slices of day-old baguette. That’s why you should know about Bar Beau, which you can confidently use for any type of low-commitment date night in the neighborhood.
During the day, Bar Beau is just a small storefront across from an elevated section of the BQE where you can grab a coffee or snack. The front room shuts down in the evening, though, and they start serving cocktails and food in a big, attractive lounge in the back. This dark room has candlelit tables in case you want to discuss your hesitations about doggy daycare with a significant other, but there are also plenty of seats at a long marble bar where you can grab drinks with someone who also, coincidentally, never does “this whole Bumble thing.”
The space feels equally like a restaurant and a bar, and the food and drink menus also work no matter how you want to use this place. Drink-wise, you’ll find some great cocktails, most of which are infused with unusual ingredients like aloe and poppy seed absinthe, as well as a short but interesting selection of wines, in case you want to try something (a lot) funkier than a glass of chilled sauvignon blanc. Get some small plates to go with your drinks - like the creamy chicken liver mousse with bacon, or scallop corn fritters that taste like briny hushpuppies - and you’ll be very happy.
All of that said, the large plates are disappointing. The broth-less udon tastes like dry cacio e pepe, the skirt steak’s only flavor comes from its thick sauce, and the seafood rice has very little actual seafood. If you’re looking for a full dinner, we’d suggest you head to Llama Inn, Lilia, or Kings County Imperial, which are all within a couple blocks of this place.
Come to Bar Beau when you want a few high-quality cocktails with someone whose middle name you don’t know yet, or for a late bite after a show at Brooklyn Steel. The music is stuff you’ll want to sing along to, the dark space and strong cocktails will make you lose track of time, and the company, well, that’s up to you.
These little balls of briny goodness have an exterior like crunchy falafel, and a soft inside like cornbread. They taste like a cross between hushpuppies and fried seafood balls. Even without the chili-lime dipping sauce, which is very good, these would be the best things here.
If there’s a chance that you might wind up dancing at Union Pool or Black Flamingo tonight, then this is a good order. It’s one of the lightest dishes here, and the portion of peppers is generous, so you can pick at them over the course of a couple rounds of drinks.
Somehow, this mousse tastes both light and full of bacon grease. It should definitely be on your table, as should extra pieces of the crunchy, oily bread that comes on the side.
If it’s not broken, don’t fix it. It goes for relationship advice, and it goes for burrata. This version is loaded with squash and a thick vinaigrette, both of which mask the flavor of the cheese.
Maybe they decided that “crispy rice with an imperceptible amount of seafood” was too long for the menu, but at least it would have been accurate.
Here’s another dish with a short title that could really use more of an explanation. There are udon noodles, but it’s brothless, and the heavy amount of Grana Padano makes it taste similar to cacio e pepe. While udon cacio e pepe sounds kind of great, it would need a lot more pepper and a lot less lemon to keep it balanced.
We actually really like the sauce on this plate, which is kind of like hoisin, but it totally overwhelms the steak. We’d happily buy a couple bottles of it to lather onto blander things that need a kick, but it’s a waste to spend $18 to eat it with a small portion of skirt steak.
If you want something on the heavier side, then this burger with a pressed brioche bun is your move. It’s made with both lamb and dry-aged beef, and because of the spices, it tastes a bit like a lamb gyro. Just know that it’s messy, so hopefully you’re with someone who thinks it’s cute when you get food on your cheeks while eating.