I’m 23 and bear a striking resemblance
to Heather Graham. Pierce Brosnan has flown in from Los Angeles
to take me to dinner. As a couple, we’re almost too beautiful.
The evening begins with martinis at the bar. The crowd tries
not to stare as we walk to our table in the center of the room.
A fantasy? Well, partly. I’ve never met Pierce Brosnan, and I’m not 23, but The Pod, a glamorous newcomer to the Williamsburg restaurant scene, has an Austin Powers-like vibe that inspires the imagination.
The original Pod, an infamous bar in Dublin known for its less than savory clientele, is the unlikely inspiration for this chic eatery. This Pod, which opened in Williamsburg in April, is a soaring, loft-like space, with a bar and a dining room downstairs, and a quieter, but still lively dining room upstairs.
In the dining areas curvy white chairs and banquettes covered in plush orange upholstery look cutting-edge, but feel comfortable and unpretentious. Black-and-white photos of a desolate trailer park run the length of the room giving a sly wink to the humble beginnings of this newly trendy neighborhood. Lighting is kept flatteringly dim and the music, "classics" like the theme from "Mission Impossible," Neil Young’s greatest hits and the Bossa Nova - all hip contenders once upon a time - give you an idea of the musical range.
A large screen over the bar serves as an ongoing gallery of sorts for local artists and filmmakers. We watched an interview with some ’80s rockers, who aside from copious wrinkles and expanded waistlines, sported the same leather and chains style they wore in their heyday. It’s SoHo 20 years ago - without Eurotrash.
What do you feed an upwardly mobile young crowd who crave the tried-and-true, but aren’t opposed to a little "fusion?" With great finesse, chef Darrell Raymond, formerly of The Grand Havana, a private cigar club with branches in New York City and Hollywood, blends French technique with New Mexican and Asian ingredients. A fried oyster "martini" is served with a chipotle remoulade and an entree of mahi-mahi is paired with a honey-tequila bordelaise. Some of the combinations are a stretch and not every dish works, but when one succeeds, it sets off fireworks.
An appetizer, simply called sauteed calamari and lobster was a sensual delight. Calamari can be a bore - either too chewy or bland. In this dish the fish absorbed all the deep-sea flavors of the sauce and had a texture like velvet. The squid and large, sweet chunks of lobster sat atop delicate green tea noodles in a multidimensional and richly aromatic wasabi-infused aioli. The complex dish unfolds slowly: first the briny sea aroma warms the face, then the delicate flavors and satiny textures of the fish become apparent and then there’s that last bit of heat from the wasabi. It’s unforgettable.
The second runner up is the forest mushroom risotto. Creamy, with an earthy truffle scent and plenty of deep mushroom flavor - it was perfectly prepared and delicious.
For those who need comfort food, Raymond offers plenty of well-made, homey favorites. Classics like sirloin au poivre with steak fries, or braised chicken with vegetables and sweet potato hash are on the menu. But why not live dangerously?
The black sea bass, firm and moist, sat in a savory puddle of lobster veloute. Squares of buttery eel gave the dish plenty of textural contrast and the crisp asparagus added a fresh crunch to the dish. Our waitress did warn us that the salmon in the seared salmon with cabbage and julienne vegetables would be served medium-rare. Salmon should always be rare. A large filet arrived slightly overcooked, and although the cabbage and julienned vegetables were tasty, the sauce, described as orange-green tea teriyaki, tasted like pure soy sauce and didn’t do much to enhance the flavor of the fish.
One attempt is made at a fusion-style dessert with the Napoleon of honey-glazed tortillas and bananas. The dessert was pretty enough, with crunchy layers of tomato-colored tortillas and ripe slices of bananas, but I wouldn’t rush back to try it again.
An apple tart, creme brulee, flourless white chocolate and flourless dark chocolate cake (very dense and fudge-like) are on the dessert roundup, but they’re also on the menu in one out of two restaurants in the New York area, and when a chef can dazzle with a dish like the sauteed calamari and lobster, shouldn’t we expect more exciting desserts? The coffee was excellent.
I’ll be back to visit The Pod. I like the ironic feel of the place with its tongue-in-cheek decor and gorgeous waitresses. Next time I want to linger at the bar sipping a designer martini. Shaken, not stirred, of course.
The Pod (141 N. Seventh St. at Berry
Street in Williamsburg) accepts Visa, MasterCard and Amex. Entrees:
The bar opens at 4 pm serving a light menu of burgers and finger foods. The dining room is open for dinner from 6 pm to 11 pm on weeknights and from 6 pm to 1 am on weekends. Sunday brunch is served from noon to 4 pm. Brunch entrees: $4-$12. Special brunch: Any entree plus all you can drink Bloody Marys, mimosas or house wines for $12.99.
Call (718) 302-3754 for further information or e-mail to management