Greenpoint Gazette

Brooklyn Label

BY Austin Kilham

It was a sunny summer day this past July with blue skies and a breeze, as I was taking a walk with a friend through Greenpoint and first came across Brooklyn Label. I had known of its existence beforehand however, having visited the other restaurants run by its founder and onetime chef, Cody Utzman. Utzman, the man behind Papacito’s and Brooklyn Standard, left Brooklyn Label in February 2008. That said, I was glad to stumble across this restaurant, which occupies a corner of Franklin Avenue’s Astral apartment house, (That’s Franklin and Java for those not used to drooling over Greenpoint real estate.)
The general zeitgeist-y feeling about Brooklyn Label seems to be mixed, and what it comes down to seems to be a matter of taste. Either you are into the upscale, hip, laissez-faire attitude, or, if that sort of thing translates for you as irritatingly slow, slack service, this may not be your kind of place.
The first time I was there, laissez-faire was certainly the order of the day. As mentioned above, it was a breezy, though more like windy, day. Eventually that wind carried away one of the umbrellas it had persistently been knocking down, and a waiter had yet to take care of, and a lanky, open-zip-up-chest-baring-hoodie chased it down. This mostly struck me as funny and didn’t really bother me, but I can see how the wait-staff’s attitude and the client base illustrated in this particular episode might be grating to some.
There is something to be said however, for a restaurant that also functions as a coffee shop that is more or less willing to let you hang out without harassment nor even a hint that it’s time to order if you don’t seem inclined in that direction. Sometimes a restaurant’s easy stance can work for you.
The coffee at Brooklyn Label is quite good and comes from Stumptown roasters which has recently become a Brooklyn label in its own right by setting up a roasting operation right here in this very borough. The original Stumptown is out in Portland, Oregon. Coffee this good is a big plus.
The food is basically good old, American diner fare but usually with a twist, be that more upscale ingredients or vegan-ified options. For those looking to make use of the space as more of a café, less a sit-down meal, go for the giant basket of shoestring fries for a snack served with homemade ketchup. The rest of the menu seems to be a variable, if not unreliable at times, selection of hearty soups sandwiches and salads. Most everything is homemade, save maybe the pastries from local bakeries, and emphasis is placed of fresh, local, and seasonal ingredients.
Weekend brunches find the place in full, frenetic swing, often with a long wait. But the food is good with dishes like challah French toast, omelettes, green eggs and ham, and quiche. The cast iron waffles are also a mighty good option.

Address & Phone

Greenpoint Gazette
597 Manhattan Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11222
phone: 718-389-6067

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