A string of boutique hotels currently dot the Williamsburg skyline. In order to stand out, it’s become imperative that they think beyond guest-exclusive amenities by launching legitimate restaurants that stand to lure locals away from clusters of established eateries on Bedford, Berry and Wythe.
The William Vale hedged its bets on pure star power, with the Andrew Carmellini–fronted Leuca. The Wythe went back to the drawing board with Reynard, and is currently winning raves for Christina Lecki’s wood-fired, all-day fare. And while Harvey’s original, distinctive concept seemed promising at the Williamsburg Hotel — especially its collaboration with sister entity, Brooklyn Bread Lab, a bakery, flour mill, classroom and workshop, overseen by chef-on-the-rise Adam Leonti—the story of Leonti’s acrimonious departure and ensuing delays threatened to become its defining feature.
Yet a solid year after launch of the actual hotel, the anticipated, in-house restaurant is finally open for business and ready to let its food do the talking.
Now under the auspices of chef Kevin Chun (formerly of Yunnan Kitchen, Soho House and Louie & Chan), vegetables play a starring role on the menu, especially as far as appetizers are concerned (early standouts include spicy fried pumpkin wedges trailed in labne, veggie ceviche composed of Easter radish and jicama, and a spaghetti squash cacio e pepe, crowned with oreganata crumbs and a soft poached egg).
While it may seem an odd choice to spotlight pizza, with Carmellini and crew stoking their own ovens a mere few blocks away, Bread Lab remains Harvey’s real ace in the hole. Producing dough forged from stone-milled heritage grains, they’ve provided admirable landing pads for the “Marochino” (harissa, cauliflower, artichokes and avocado), the “Diablo” (Calabrian salami and chilies, smoked bacon and honey) and the Sedano Picante pie (celeriac, poblanos, housemade cashew cheese and cress).
Although Chun and Co. are keen on promoting wellness through naturally healthful foods—think cultured kefir, housemade pickles and burrata anointed with apple butter, bee pollen and raw wildflower honey—there’s no question that a greatest hits meal at Harvey will prove heavily reliant on carbs. Thanks to head baker Assane Diop (late of Maison Kayser), unapologetically gluten-laden options include fermented pancakes during brunch, a meat and cheese board pre-dinner, or—part of Harvey’s initial conceptual lineup—a full afternoon tea, complete with pastries, viennoiserie, mini sandwiches and scones.
Not only does the elegant progression of baked goods help distinguish the establishment from surrounding hotels, it may just accomplish a trickier feat; serving as a siren call to the already restaurant-blessed denizens of Williamsburg.