Beer Garden + Banh Mi = Greenpoint’s Best-Kept Secret

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Let’s face it: summer in New York is over. There’s technically a month left, but if it goes by as quickly as the rest of them did, then August will be over by the time you’re done reading this. Looking back on the season that was, the two dominant commodities are obvious – -beer gardens and banh mi. Until now, a harmonious partnership of the two has been non-existent, but an enterprising Brooklyn-based chef has changed all that, and it’s too bad you’re only just now finding out about it.

A few months ago, t.b.d., a clandestine bar on a Greenpoint side street, converted an adjacent lot into a very summery beer garden replete with picnic tables, rustic patio furniture sets, and a gravelly base, all surrounded by a protective barbed wire. But what separates this outdoor area from the others is the corner grill, run by young chef Jon Meyer, formerly a line cook at the Fatty Crab and Diner. Meyer mans the ship from behind a standard barbeque, and at first glance he looks like Dad on a Sunday afternoon, grilling up burgers for the kiddies. But the menu indicates something else entirely.

Meyer grew up in Northern California where sustainable agriculture is more of a norm, and he takes great pride in the quality of his ingredients. He plucks them from a nearby farmer’s market and gets fresh organics from Rooftop Farms. Regulars on the menu include Meyer’s take on the banh mi, which includes egg, Sriracha, and kaffir aioli. Another is his eggplant sandwich, garnished with pickled red onions, harrisa, smoked feta, and mint. When I came last weekend, Meyer whipped up tangy smoked chicken wings, corn on the cob with smoked apple butter, and an octopus salad with charred scallions and romesco. All of it was utterly delicious. Other staples include mac n’ cheese and a BLT. “We just cook whatever we want, so long as it’s delicious, and we can pull it off.” He can, and he does.

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Photos by Mary Meyer.