Don’t let the name fool you. Roebling Tea Room serves much more than tea. There is a brunch, daytime and dinner menu, and inventive drink concoctions like the rosemary hot toddy. It is a good place for those who toil with ordering until they know what the other person wants, or if your friend is on the wagon but you’d like a pint—you can pair tea with an appetizer, a cocktail with dessert, or order a full meal.
For the laissez-faire, settle in on one of the long, comfortable couches in the back. The interior is usually dim and moody, but the high ceilings and large windows prevent any sense of claustrophobia. Homey wooden tables and the green-tiled bar dominate the room, while a patio in the back waits for better weather (which might just be tomorrow).
The menu changes seasonally and the current term is christened “Bleak Midwinter 2008 AD.” It isn’t so bleak, however, that Roebling can’t provide an uplifting brunch menu with dishes such as salt cod hash browns or baked cheddar eggs with raisin fennel toast. If you’re very hungry, try their big Dutch-style baked pancake. One pancake is big enough for two people, served with stewed pears, baked-in cherries, and spiced butter. And if you’re tired of the ubiquitous Bloody Marys and mimosas, Roebling provides more interesting items like “Grog Galois”—a unique mix of honey mead, lemon, and soda.
The dinner menu includes appetizers like snails, chive, and pistou on brioche and meat plates with chestnut preserves. Entrées include rabbit stroganoff, drunk beans with polenta, and the ever-popular macaroni and cheese. Attending to our eco-conscience, Roebling features grass-fed and free-range meats, and tries to use local and organic ingredients where possible. While Roebling is “not currently composting,” said one waitress, “a lot of things are in transition for spring,” and the change of season should herald even more earth-friendly measures.
Desserts, surprisingly, are hit-or-miss. Try the vanilla bean panna cotta. It’s served in a generous bowl, features a perfectly pliant top and extremely satisfying, creamy vanilla interior. The apple crisp is to be avoided. There aren’t nearly enough apples and too much topping, which itself is thick and stale.
While Roebling is no secret to local Williamsburgers, it remains fairly unknown to the Manhattan-centric. On your way over you’ll pass bars Spuyten Duyvil and Black Betty, which may lure you to the area a second (or third) time.
How to get there: Take the L to Lorimer St. Walk west on Metropolitan until you hit Roebling. Roebling Tea Room is part of a brick building and will be on your left. For detailed directions from anywhere on Manhattan, click the HopStop link below. (Roebling Tea Room, 143 Roebling St., Brooklyn, 718,963.0760, roeblingtearoom.com)
Photo: Courtesy of Roebling Tea Room.