The naming-restaurants-after-animals trend continues with Bear, opening November 11 a few blocks from Long Island City's Socrates Sculpture Park. The dining room is studded with Swarovski crystal chandeliers set into the walls, with Venetian-tiled floors, and a full-service granite-topped mosaic bar. On the "New European" menu, consider the house appetizer, "3-Shot Vodka," a seasonally rotating trio of small bites served with a mini-carafe of vodka intended to jump-start the meal and whet the palate. "Bear Wings" are actually large duck wings served with an apple salad and blue cheese dipping sauce. Another house dish features Long Island duck slow-roasted with a whole granny smith apple, served with sunflower-oil-seared potatoes. Cocktails, wines, and several obscure craft beers (including two from the Great Lakes brewery in Cleveland) make up the drinks selection.
Executive chef Natasha Pogrebinsky comes most recently from the Castello Plan in Brooklyn, but has studied in a few of New York's top kitchens, including at Park Avenue Seasons and as an apprentice to Salumeria Rosi's Cesare Casella. While initially just serving dinner and an abbreviated late-night menu (2 a.m. weekdays; 4 a.m. weekends), Bear will eventually serve lunch and brunch as well. The full opening menu may be seen here.
Bear, 1214 31st Ave., nr. 12th St., Long Island City; 917-396-4939