He’s a big fish in a big park.
A pair of new eateries, helmed by a renowned French chef, dropped anchor in Brooklyn Bridge Park last week, as part of the new marina at the base of Pier Five. The bistro Estuary and the bakery Ebb & Flow occupy neighboring spaces in the Park-side corner of the One Brooklyn Bridge building. The culinary director of both spaces, James Beard award-winning chef Francois Payard, wants his new restaurant to be a welcoming spot for the Brooklyn Heights community.
“We don’t want it to be pretentious,” said Payard. “We want to be a neighborhood brasserie, with a lot of fresh fish and seafood.”
The bistro features a raw bar, tuna tartare, and a seared Scottish salmon on the menu, along with a selection of steaks, salads, burgers, and other entrees, with prices that mostly range from $14 to $29.
“The menu — I think it is affordable,” said the acclaimed pastry chef. “It’s not cheap — we’re not a diner — but it’s not ridiculous.”
The bistro has 150 seats inside, with an additional 48 spots available on the outdoor patio, which offers fantastic views of downtown Manhattan, as well as the volleyball courts nearby.
It also features a wrap-around cocktail bar, serving Brooklyn-made spirits and beers, along with an affordable wine list.
Helping Payard to run the kitchen is executive chef Danny Brown, who previously worked at Circa Brewing Downtown, and who earned a Michelin star for his Danny Brown Wine Bar and Kitchen in Queens. Brown, who said he is excited to show off his savory seafoood tarts, sees the brasserie as a mid-point between the park’s the ice cream stands and the high-end River Cafe.
“What Estuary does is bridge the gap between casual and finer dining, so there’s something for everyone in the community,” he said.
Next door is Ebb & Flow, a grab-and-go bakery that sells coffee, soft drinks, pastries, sandwiches, and pre-made full meal boxes. It may remind people of another well-known chain store, said Payard.
“We’re like a Starbucks, but better!” he quipped.
The French pastry chef’s touch is clear — for instance, the breakfast sandwiches use fluffy croissants as bread, and can be quickly heated in a toaster oven. Serving a bacon and egg sandwich is a new development for Payard, who was named “Pastry Chef of the Year” by Bon Appetit magazine.
“It is the first time I have been so Americanized,” he said.
The space, which has only two seats inside, is designed so that visitors to the Park can grab whatever they need for a picnic, and Payard makes it clear that Estuary and Ebb & Flow are two different spaces.
“One is take out, the other is sit-down,” he said.
The only thing the two share are Payard’s fabulous layer cakes, which can be purchased by the slice at either spot.
Estuary in Brooklyn Bridge Park’s Pier 5 [159 Bridge Park Dr. at Joralemon Street in Brooklyn Heights, (718) 521–6744, ext. 1, www.estua
Ebb & Flow at the same address, (718) 618–9775, www.ebban