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Custom American Wine Bar, Williamsburg

CitySpoonful Nov 18, 2011 02:49 PM

In case you missed City Spoonful's review of Custom American Wine Bar in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, earlier this week -- here it is:

What’s more American than a glass of California tempranillo and a Chicago hot dog?

In the year since it opened, Custom American Wine Bar has grown into its own skin of reclaimed barn beams, good music and a carefully chosen menu of quality wines, craft beers, bourbon and local food. Its success makes it clear that Williamsburg needs more unpretentious neighborhood haunts.

On a chilly fall evening, we naturally started with a little Noah’s Mill bourbon to warm the belly and kick the palate to life. As the Kentucky nectar soothed our nerves, a funk-and-soul cover of Buffalo Springfield’s “For What It’s Worth” played over a muted James Bond film.

Our first round of food was the meat and cheese plate, accompanied by the cellar-pickled vegetables. Smoky tasso (ham), finocchiona (Tuscan salami peppered with fennel), St. Pete’s blue cheese and a nicely aged Cabot cheddar were served on a stone slab, with a little mustard, apple and walnut to heighten the essential flavors of the meats and cheeses.

The woody pork went well with the earthy skunk of the St. Pete’s and the sharp edge of the crumbling cheddar, while the brine from the crisp carrots, sweet pickles and juicy beets cut through the delicious fats. The helpful bartender suggested a peppery and smooth Matchbook tempranillo to wash it all down.

Another glass of the solid tempranillo seemed like the perfect accompaniment for the house hot dog, The Custom. The Vienna beef snuggly nestled in a Chicago-style poppy-seed bun and topped with maple relish was a no-frills bar bite, but it bore no relation to the dubious street meat that punctuates so many late nights out. It did the trick, combining good textures and classic flavors. Hot dogs and wine might just be a new American classic.

Out of the array of sliders on the menu, our friendly barkeep suggested the crab cake slider. The crab cake, wedged between a nice buttery bun and slathered with Old Bay-seasoned aioli, had a good outer crunch. Unfortunately, its inner consistency left a little more lump to be desired. More flavor and firmer crab would knock this slider up a notch.

To bring it on home, there was no question but to go for the dessert fit for the King—The Elvis, an artery-clogging snack that combines the crunch of bacon with a velvety spread of peanut butter and slices of banana. It was served on crustless white bread, to bring out that inner child, and drizzled with a sweet honey-and-peanut-butter sauce that made it clear that this indulgent dessert is not part of a well-balanced breakfast.

What to drink with a bacon, banana and peanut-butter sandwich? We couldn’t resist a glass of Davy Crockett’s wine, a soft and smooth blend of syrah and merlot grapes from Fess Parker Winery. It was an unconventional pairing, but the soft tannins and dark fruit notes of the wine stood up well to the salty bacon and stickiness of the peanut butter.

A menu littered with well-executed Americana touches—from the King of Rock and Roll’s favorite snack to a wine laced with pioneer folklore—makes Custom a real find in a neighborhood with no shortage of gastro bars.

(Photos at: http://www.cityspoonful.com/bite-the-...

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Custom
644 Driggs Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11211