Hope Garage (Williamsburg)....Totally Obscure and Very Good
Never mentioned on these boards, and little-mentioned anywhere else:
Hope Garage 163 Hope St (just off Union Ave, right near the Metropolitan Ave "G" stop), Williamsburgh (718) 388-4626 http://hopegarage.com
Really nice space, sleekly renovated garage, comfortable and inviting, but not so painfully moody that you'd feel uncomfortable there solo or with kids. Nice big bar, with good spirits and wines (beers in bottle only).
The food has touch to it. Thoughtful and personal. Doesn't taste like everywhere else, and doesn't taste like they're just grinding it out. I almost feel like a fossil mentioning "touch", it's an old-fashioned descriptor. But only because it's rare these days, at least at this price range ($20 entries).
They push the Buffalo wings - which I saw other people eating, and they looked terrific - but that's clearly the wrong branding message. This is the sort of place where you want to experience the chef's sophisticated touch, not scarf a buncha wings. That, plus the "cheap PBR" beer special create confusion in a somewhat aspirational restaurant.
There are a zillion great $15 noshes in this town, and plenty of grandeur at the high end, but it's damned hard to find a $40 dinner that's worth the cost. They seem to be struggling to attract a following (bad location...who's ever heard of Hope Street?). Consider checking it out.
I discovered this place via a newish strategy: I study photos on Yelp. I never read the reviews or pay attention to the ratings, but an experienced hound can glean a lot from photos....and the shots for this place gave me the impression of something different and thoughtful (and I was right). See if you get the same impression:
Photos are certainly useful. I'll also read Yelp reviews. Sure, some are written by idiots but they're easy to spot. Then there are the ones written by brunchers. I throw those out as well.
As for the rest, I assess their credibility based on the contents of the review. Is it thorough? Is it balanced? Wildly positive or negative reviews tend to be unreliable.
If I find a reviewer who seems credible I'll do a quick check on a few of their other reviews to confirm my initial feelings.
I do the same thing with reviews on CH unless I'm familiar with a given poster's tastes and overall credibility. Opening a CH account doesn't immediately grant a person credibility - it has to be earned.