No one says they’re an East Villager or a Chelsean. In order to say that, you’d need to have lived on St Mark’s before edgy meant NYU students getting friendship tattoos, and to have lived on 10th Avenue before the sidewalk was 30 feet in the air.
Nowadays, we only live in an apartment or specific neighborhood for a couple years. Then a Whole Foods opens down the block, and your landlord decides this justifies a 40% increase in rent. Or your go-to restaurant around the corner, where you sat in the same seat three nights a week, turns into a poke place serving mocktails with decorative straws.
Regardless of which neighborhood you currently call home, Pheasant will feel like your ideal local spot. It’s a Williamsburg place where everyone seems to know each other - a feeling that’s increasingly rare in this neighborhood. People nod and make room for you at the bar when you walk in, and as soon as we sat down, we started talking to two strangers (who we now know as Lucas and Hannah) at the table next to us. All of this amounts to something that resembles more of a dinner party than a restaurant, which helps make up for the fact that you will end up spending a great deal more at Pheasant than you would on the six-pack of Lagunitas IPAs you normally bring to such gatherings.
If you want to have a good and affordable dinner here, your order is the crispy chicken wings followed by the pressed burger with potato wedges. The fairly large order of wings are drizzled with yogurt, and the burger is topped with a slab of smoked kielbasa and aged provolone. Order other things on the menu, and you run the risk of eating something bland, overpriced, or both. For example, if you start with the roasted octopus and the yellowfin crudo, you’ll have spent $30 for a handful of relatively forgettable bites. With that, you could have gotten two nice six-packs, depending on the bodega.
If you live in the area, then hanging out at Pheasant will make you feel like you’ve found your neighborhood spot. The food may not justify a trip from other parts of the city, but then again, getting to Williamsburg would be a whole lot easier than picketing in front of that new Whole Foods.
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If you’re looking for a light salad to start the meal, you won’t find it here. This caesar is very caesar-y, and that’s a good thing.
A few big sardines in lemon juice and olive oil come out on a large cutting board with slices of sourdough. The bread and overall presentation are nice, but the sardines themselves are just normal sardines.
We’re often frustrated by this city’s lack of quality chicken wings. Pheasant’s are not traditional buffalo wings, but we’d consider coming back just to get them again. They have very crispy skin, and instead of the side of ranch you’re used to, these are drizzled with yogurt that’s also quite good.
A very pretty plate of yellowfin tuna topped with avocado puree and jalapeno peppers. This is refreshing, but the portion is so small that Zoolander would ask if this is a crudo for ants.
This octopus is braised and then roasted, and served over an almond puree. We like the octopus itself, but the puree, beans, and olives don’t complement the octopus or taste good on their own, which is another way of saying they’re strictly on the plate for looks. We’re not going to recommend spending $17 here on two tentacles.
Chicken Over Rice
This chicken deserves to have a special note on the menu that says “We promise this isn’t as boring as most chicken.” It’s a big thigh served over heavily spiced yellow rice, with a white sauce on the side that you should apply liberally to everything on the plate.
Using meat as a topping for other meat is a practice that we wholeheartedly endorse, but this rarely goes beyond a slice or two of bacon. Pheasant tops its burger patty with a thick slab of smoked kielbasa, and in case you’re worried that this sounds a little on the light side, it’s also topped with aged provolone and aioli. Get this meat-on-meat creation on your table.