When temperatures drop, few foods are more satisfying than the hearty flavors of Eastern Europe, ripe as they are with slow-cooked meats and root vegetables. So it's appropriate that Bear, a new European-accented spot in Long Island City, is opening up this Friday, just as winter starts to settle in.
Bear is headed up by chef Natasha Pogrebinsky, late of Ditmas Park's The Castello Plan, who's making the move to Queens to focus on what she's calling "New European Cuisine." Menu highlights include "Three-Shot Vodka," ice-cold vodka paired with house-pickled vegetables, cured meats, and egg mimosa with salmon caviar ($16), wild mushrooms stewed with onions and crème with roasted potato and crostini ($12), roasted duck served with potato and Granny Smith apples stewed in duck jus ($29), and something called "The Grizzly," a pork burger with black currant BBQ sauce, pickles and herb-coated fries ($19). There's also a special late-night menu (the restaurant is open until 4 a.m. on weekends) with after-hours only dishes like pressed fish jerky, served on newspaper.
The 60-seat space is decorated like a little European jewelbox, with glass tiles, Swarovski crystal-bedazzled lamps, and a glittery bar with a full liquor shelf. There's also an open kitchen where guests needing a break from all the gut-busting fare can catch a glimpse of Pogrebinsky in action.