Last night, we were treated to the VIP Opening Party of new restaurant Hook & Cleaver in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. Walking in, we loved the rustic, simple attitude of the space, where we were immediately greeted by waiters taking drink orders of classic Whiskey Sours, topped with a unique splash of Merlot. Making ourselves comfortable right next to the kitchen, we sipped our drinks while anticipating the food, which would be coming out hors d'oeuvres style. Working the room was head chef Diana DiMeo, looking stunning, even with an arm injury that she sustained just last week. "I don't have a choice to be fine," the badass finalist of "The Taste" and "Chopped" contestant, remarked to us. We sat down with her to learn more about Hook & Cleaver.
“I kind of wanted to reinstate the old style of the Beefsteak Clubs, which was done in the late 1800s and early 1920s,” DiMeo explained. “Back then it was only men involved, but I was thinking what a wonderful way to introduce it to Brooklyn. That is why we are only open three days a week.”
The chef added that this restaurant is, of course, open to both men and women. She described the food as “cuts of beef, no frill, it’s just old school comfort food but it has a lot of English influences to it. We want classic food. I think we're back in the day where we don't want the flu-flu fluffy shit, we don't want any more foams, we just want food. I want food that I go home and dream about every single night, I want to CRAVE it! I want cheese, I want steaks, I want eggs benedict, I want Bloody Marys.”
Once the food started coming out, we found a common theme - bacon. If we had Brussels Sprouts cooked like these, we would have gladly eaten them as kids. The standout appetizer was the Cauliflower topped with Béchamel sauce and a layer of browned breadcrumbs, which had guests looking for seconds and thirds. The entree standout was, of course, the Hanger Steak, served bite-size and cooked to perfection. Just thinking about it now leaves us salivating for more, exactly what chef DiMeo was trying to achieve.
You can dine at Hook & Cleaver every Thursday through Saturday for dinner, and soon for Saturday and Sunday brunch under a different name, Benedicts, at 68 Greenpoint Avenue. Visit their website at www.hookncleaver.com.