March 23, 2022 By Michael Dorgan
American Brass, an upscale Long Island City restaurant that opened days before the pandemic hit in March 2020, is gearing up to welcome diners back to enjoy its stunning waterfront views as well as its upscale kitchen.
Views from Hunters Point Restaurant had been obstructed for most of the pandemic by nearly two dozen greenhouses set up outside the premises to accommodate al fresco diners.
But owner Robert Briskin tore them down, and he’s reclaiming his sidewalk dining space in anticipation of warmer weather.
“We destroyed the greenhouses because we wanted to symbolically end the COVID restrictions,” Briskin said. “We’re leaving the COVID stuff behind and I never want to see the greenhouses again.”
The units achieved their goal, Briskin said, but also prevented passers-by from getting a glimpse inside the 6,000-square-foot facility which features eloquent brass lighting and white tile walls.
Briskin had spent $3.4 million to renovate the 2-01 50th Ave space. before the pandemic hit.
Despite the unfortunate timing of its opening, Briskin was determined to thrive. It never closed – even though hundreds of other restaurants in town have closed for good – and now the restaurant is celebrating its second anniversary.
To mark the achievement, the restaurant has launched a new steak selection led by Michelin-starred chef Kevin McGinley.
Briskin nabbed McGinley in 2020 after the Manhattan-based restaurant Bâtard temporarily shut down with the shutdown — a silver lining for Briskin and American Brass.
The new selection features four cuts of steak on the menu, sourced from De Bragga butchers in Jersey City.
Briskin considers De Bragga, which at one time operated out of the Meatpacking District, the best meat supplier in New York.
The American Brass steak menu consists of a 10 oz Wagyu Flank, a 12 oz New York strip, an 18 oz rib eye and a 32 oz dry-aged porterhouse. The steaks come with sauces like bearnaise sauce and red wine jus, while there are also a number of side dishes on the menu.
Briskin said few restaurants in the area offer such a variety of steaks on their menu.
“We try to do more and better. We prepare everything on site and we make everything from scratch,” Briskin said, adding that his next goal is for the restaurant to earn a Michelin star.
Other dinner options include a range of pasta dishes, Atlantic salmon, pork chops, and a dry-aged burger.
The dessert menu includes a red wine velvet, an apple tart tatin, a Valrhona chocolate soufflé and a citrus tart. The restaurant also serves a range of wines and cocktails.
Briskin said the restaurant’s food comes from local markets and its beer comes from nearby breweries. He said it was important to him to support other local businesses to give back to the community.
Briskin, who lived in Long Island City for 10 years until 2019, said local residents’ custom helped keep American Brass in business. He also kept his staff employed.
“The easiest thing in the world for us would have been to shut down, fire everyone and wait for things to get better to relaunch,” Briskin said. “It would have been a lot cheaper, but it didn’t seem like the right thing to do.”
Briskin said he felt a sense of duty to the community to stay open.
“Having been a resident of Long Island City in the past, I know people have small kitchens and cooking isn’t always fun. We wanted to make sure people had access to great food options at carry.
“I’m glad we were there to give the neighborhood something to look forward to and something beautiful for them in a time of ugliness.”
Briskin said he hopes the challenges of the pandemic are firmly behind him so he can focus all his energy on providing his customers with top quality food and exceptional customer service.
“We’ve had a great symbiotic relationship with our customers over the past few years and I’m glad we’re still here to celebrate the return to normalcy with them.”
American Brass is open for dinner from 5:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Sundays and from 5:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.
The restaurant is open from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays for brunch.