March 23, 2022 By Michael Dorgan
American Brass, an upscale restaurant in Long Island City that opened just days before the pandemic struck in March 2020, is getting ready to welcome diners back to enjoy its stunning waterfront views as well as its high-end cuisine.
The views at the Hunters Point eatery had been obstructed for most of the pandemic by nearly two dozen greenhouses that were installed outside the premises to accommodate outdoor diners.
But owner Robert Briskin has torn them down and he is reclaiming his sidewalk dining space in anticipation of the warmer weather.
“We took the greenhouses down because we wanted to be symbolically done with COVID restrictions,” Briskin said. “We are putting the COVID stuff behind us and I never want to see the greenhouses again.”
The units served their purpose, Briskin said, but had also obstructed passers-by from getting a glimpse inside the 6,000 square foot establishment that features eloquent brass lighting and white tile walls.
Briskin had spent $3.4 million renovating the 2-01 50th Ave. space before the pandemic hit.
Despite the unfortunate timing of his opening, Briskin was determined to thrive. He never closed his doors – even though hundreds of other city eateries shuttered for good — and now the restaurant is celebrating its two-year anniversary.
To mark the achievement, the restaurant has launched a new steak selection headed up by Michelin star chef Kevin McGinley.
Briskin nabbed McGinley in 2020 after the Manhattan-based restaurant Bâtard temporarily closed with the shutdown – a silver lining for Briskin and American Brass.
The new selection brings four cuts of steak to the menu, which are sourced from the Jersey City-based butchers De Bragga.
Briskin considers De Bragga, which at one time operated out of the Meatpacking District, as the best supplier of meats in New York.
The American Brass steak menu consist 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 Béarnaise sauce and red wine jus while there are also a number of sides on the menu.
Briskin said that not many restaurants in the area offer such a variety of steaks on their menu.
“We’re trying to do more and better. We prepare everything on-premises and we make everything from scratch,” Briskin said, adding that his next goal is for the restaurant to obtain 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 cake, an apple tarte 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 is sourced from local markets and its beer comes from breweries close by. He said that supporting other local businesses is important for him in order to give back to the community.
Briskin, who lived in Long Island City for 10 years until 2019, said that the custom of local residents has helped keep American Brass in business. It also kept his staff employed.
“The easiest thing in the world for us would have been to shut down, fire everybody and wait for things to get better to relaunch,” Briskin said. “It would have been a lot cheaper but it didn’t feel like the right thing to do.”
Briskin said he felt a sense of duty to the community to stay open.
“From being a resident of Long Island City in the past, I know that people have small kitchens and cooking is not always fun. We wanted to make sure that people had access to great take-out options.”
“I’m glad we were there for the neighborhood to provide them with something to look forward to and something beautiful in a time of ugliness.”
Briskin said he hopes the challenges of the pandemic are firmly behind him so he can put all his energy into providing his customers with top-quality food and outstanding customer service.
“We’ve had a great symbiotic relationship with our guests over the last few years and I’m happy that we’re still around to celebrate getting back to normal with them.”
American Brass is open for dinner from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Wednesday, Thursdays and Sundays and from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.
The restaurant is open from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays for brunch.
For more information on American Brass, or to view its menu, visit www.americanbrasslic.com.