If you asked us our thoughts on Reynard at some point since its opening in 2012, you probably heard something like, “It’s another hotel restaurant.” This likely made you think of business lunches, $21 salads, and fancy silverware. After all, you probably only go to hotel restaurants when you need an inoffensive spot to meet people you don’t really know, or you have cousins staying there who are too tired to go out after a long day searching for knockoff handbags and walking so, so slowly on sidewalks all over the city.
And for several years, Reynard was just another hotel restaurant. Sure, it was in a cool Williamsburg hotel, not the Sheraton Times Square, but it still wasn’t a very exciting place to eat. Particularly when you considered it was in one of the city’s top restaurant neighborhoods. But that’s changed in a major way: they’ve brought in a new chef, changed the menu, and Reynard is now serving some very good food.
The American food at Reynard is mostly all cooked over a wood fire, which helps make everything from steak to roasted cauliflower taste pretty delicious. And thanks to an in-house butcher, there are also some adventurous things to eat, from beef tongue to a pig head terrine. But even the dishes that sound like ordinary hotel restaurant items are much more interesting than you’d expect. The roasted squash and a half-chicken, for example, are some of the best things on the menu. The squash cooks overnight on the embers of the open-hearth, and the big portion of smoky chicken is served with sides of crispy rice and smoked cabbage that will make you wonder if there’s any safe way to cook with an open-fire in your apartment. There is not.
The bar area at Reynard is casual and you’ll almost definitely hear “Can’t Stop The Feeling” or, if the bartender is feeling sentimental, “Cry Me A River”, but overall, this is one of the fancier dinner options in the neighborhood. Unlike some Williamsburg servers who sneer if you don’t comment on their rib tattoo of the Allegory of the Cave, the servers at Reynard explain how each dish is made and recommend options from the long French wine list that will pair nicely with your food. With this in mind, besides the Nordic families and middle-aged Parisian couples staying at The Wythe, Reynard tends to be filled with Williamsburg residents who need a place that will convince their parents that they have their lives together, even if they actually have three roommates in a converted one bedroom under the BQE.
In order to get into Reynard, you’ll have to walk past groups of guys waiting for the doorman to let them up to the rooftop bar, and then you’ll have to pass through the tourist-filled lobby. But trust us, the hotel restaurant stereotype at Reynard ends there.
Complimentary bread is an afterthought at many places, but this sourdough from She Wolf Bakery is definitely worth having on your table, especially to dip in other dishes throughout dinner.
Whenever we leave fires burning unattended, we end up with another Smokey the Bear pamphlet. Reynard, on the other hand, puts this squash on the embers of the open fire, and it cooks overnight and ends up tasting charred and very sweet.
Garlic tends to be a polarizing ingredient. If you’re one of those people who wouldn’t think twice about ordering garlic shrimp on a first date, then you’ll really like this soup. The broth is made from whatever leftover meats they have on-hand, but garlic is the main flavor.
Even though this is one of the only dishes without meat or seafood, it’s still a fairly heavy salad. There are fresh and roasted apples along with some super smoky cabbage and a tangy cream sauce. We’ve never had apples or cabbage that taste quite like this.
We had high expectations for this - freshly made flatbread and in-house sausage stuffed with offal - but this actually turned out to be one of our least favorite things here. The thick, doughy flatbread and too much cilantro and parsley on top overwhelmed the other flavors. Cilantro and parsley overwhelming organ-stuffed sausage should be against the laws of nature, but it happens here.
This is some great chicken. It’s cooked over the open fire and served with a rich pan sauce with its own giblets. You don’t have to eat the giblets, but you should, and we think you have to. The skin is blackened and smokey, and the meat is tender and juicy. The crispy rice and smoked cabbage on the side are great as well.
The cut varies based on what’s available from the whole-animal butcher program, but it’ll be a solid portion of grass-fed beef. It’s served with some really good charred broccolini and a raclette sauce made with two types of cheese, cream, and garlic - so yes, it’s good.