New Restaurant & Bar Openings: Cafe de La Esquina At The Wythe Diner, East End Kitchen And More

<em>(<a href="">BitchcakesNY's Flickr</a>)</em><br/><br/><strong>Cafe de La Esquina at the Wythe Diner: </strong>We were pretty broken up when Relish, the classic chrome railcar-style diner in Wiliamsburg, <a href="">abruptly closed last summer</a>. Then we were ambivalent when it was revealed that the team behind the exclusive <a href="">scenester Nolita club La Esquina</a> would be taking over the formerly democratic establishment. Now, with their revamp poised to open on Monday, we've come to terms with it. Hopefully, the place won't turn into an obnoxious club with velvet ropes and idling Escalades out front, and as long as some sanity remains in effect, it'll surely be better than any number of other gentrifying fates that usually befall places like this.<br/><br/><a href="">According to the website</a> for what is now awkwardly called Cafe de La Esquina at the Wythe Diner, the new concept for the place consists of a casual late night diner up front that doesn't take reservations; a more intimate, upscale back room that does take reservations and serves "a robust selection of small plates, Taquitoes, Tostados, and main plates"; and a taqueria and garden. The taqueria "offers a fun, light atmosphere, complete with a take-away counter and service window. A selection of tasty tacos, sandwiches and salads are offered for those on-the-go. In the warmer months, tap beer and shaved ices are available for guests to be enjoyed in the garden." At night, there will be al fresco seating for the Diner available for guests.<br/><br/>The interior of the Eisenhower-era establishment has been given a careful facelift without messing with its atavistic charm, and the menu from Chef Akhtar Nawab seems to have a wide variety of options. In short, we're actually looking forward to checking it out, despite our attachment to the past. Let's just be glad the place wasn't torn down to build <a href="">a Duane Reade condo</a> (yet).<br/><br/><em>225 Wythe Avenue, Brooklyn, (718) 393-5500</em>

<p>The Elotes Callejeros at Cafe de La Esquina at the Wythe Diner.</p>

<strong>Crown Victoria Bar and Beer Gardens: </strong>The indoor-outdoor bar scene near Williamsburg's Wythe Avenue at the East River waterfront gets a new big hitter this week as Crown Victoria Bar and Beer Garden (Crown Vic, for laid-back insiders) opens its doors for drinks, <a href="">outdoor movie screenings</a>, and bartop eats. With a 1000 square foot front yard and a 7500 square foot side yard that grows tomatoes, peppers, and herbs for cocktails and bar food, patrons may forget they live in our densely packed city in the first place.<br/><br/>The name comes from its location at an old police car repair and resale lot, and the bar countertop is made of reclaimed wood from the Coney Island boardwalk. As for the menu, there are 24 beers on tap including Allagash, Gaffel Kosch, Mother's Milk stout, and Harpoon IPA to accompany dressed up pub fare including Fried Green Tomato sandwiches and Six Point Beer Battered Fish and Chips. (<em>Elyssa Goldberg</em>)<br/><br/><em>60 South 2nd Street, Williamsburg, (718) 387-0003</em>

<p>Outside at Crown Victoria Bar and Beer Gardens. </p>

<strong>Lobster Joint:</strong> This Greenpoint lobster destination opened over a month ago, but we didn't get a chance to swing by until last weekend, and this cute little place deserves a mention even if it's not brand new. Located in what was once the middling Lamb &amp; Jaffy restaurant, the interior has been completely transformed into a relaxed but well-appointed restaurant specializing in all things lobster. The vibe is seaside casual; you place your order at the counter and retire to one of the booths in the front room or a picnic table in the big backyard.<br/><br/>A lobster roll comes with fries or chips and will set you back the going rate of $17. Also on the pricey end, there's a 1 and 3/4 pound lobster dinner for $33. You can also get a lobster salad for $15, a clam roll for $14, and a fish sandwich for $12. And for dessert, they've got the increasingly trendy <a href="">Coolhaus ice cream sandwiches</a>. Peruse <a href="">the full menu here</a>. <br/><br/><em>1073 Manhattan Avenue, Brooklyn, (718) 389-8990</em>

<p>The backyard at the Lobster Joint.</p>

<em>(<a href="">Courtesy Thrillist</a>)</em><br/><br/><strong>East End Kitchen: </strong>The husband and wife team behind the new restaurant East End Kitchen is bringing the tried-and-true formula for profitable "farm-to-table" seasonal American rustic chic to the uppity culinary void at 81st between First Ave and East End. Adding the insta-success ingredient of bringing in a talented chef (chef Edward Martinez, formerly of L'Atelier) from Portland, the menu-we-feel-we've-seen-before is probably more promising in person. <br/><br/>Some summer menu dishes include Chilled Tomato Soup, Watermelon and Goat Cheese Salad, Chicken a la Summer Ale, and desserts including a refreshing Frozen Blueberry Souffle. Fruity and vegetal cocktails also utilize fresh, local ingredients and accompany Long Island and Finger Lakes' wine, regional craft beers, Jim's Organic Coffee, and <a href="">SerendipiTeas</a> as thematically consistent beverage options.<br/><br/> The space boasts large reclaimed-oak tables "without the white cloth" with the intention of bringing the feel of "countless restaurants like this in the East Village or West Village" to the Upper East Side, perhaps East End Kitchen can successfully balance out the Upper East Side-ification of Lower Manhattan. (<em>Elyssa Goldberg</em>) <br/><br/><em>539 East 81st Street; (212) 879-0450</em>