We frequently joke about how NYC is turning into one giant bank branch—then cry when it comes true. Now here comes a new restaurant embracing that trend, in aesthetics at least. Bill Baker's quietly began service on Williamsburg's Grand Street a few weeks ago, taking over part of a former apartment space hugging Marcy Avenue and the entrance to the BQE. Named for the owner's grandfather who made his name in banking, the bar-restaurant features touches of its namesake's livelihood with a vintage bank counter (already helpfully emblazoned with a BB, for Brooklyn Bank), an antique bank clock and a custom bar piece that mimics a teller's window.

Though I'm not opposed to boozing in a bank, I'm glad the theme doesn't extend past a few hat tips. Owners Adam Randisi and Nels Benton—who were culinary school buddies—are more focused on the food and drinks, namely their idea of "addictive food" that they "made as decadent as possible;" in other words, the Brooklyn way. During my visit that meant a buttery Duck Cuban ($12) with roasted duck and Westphalia ham, Cracklin Duck Pierogi ($12) with duck confit, and THIS:



The duo also dedicated a lot of the business to the beer, originally hoping to brew their own as they'd done back at school. Instead of a brewpub, though, they enlisted the folks at Long Island's Spider Bite Beer Co to contract brew four special beers, which were designed by Randisi and Benton. Of those, the ESB ($8) was my favorite, with its pleasing copper color and a very drinkable balance of hops, malts and other flavors. Patrons can try all four as part of their beer sampler or opt for another of 23 craft beers, bourbon or house cocktail including the Bill Baker's Sour made with egg whites and Bulleit Bourbon.

They're hoping that a late night menu will also attract a crowd, as after midnight eats beyond the diner can be scarce. The cellar bar, which boasts a private entrance through a hidden outside door, should also be a selling point for private parties and cocktails once it comes together. Be on the lookout also for their "Cheek of the Week" specials, Benton's answer to the ubiquitous short rib, which'll feature a different braised meat or fish cheek with accoutrements to match.

364 Grand Street, Williamsburg, 718-734-8890; website

Bill Baker's Menu