On the same unassuming Broadway corner under the subway tracks in South Williamsburg where the former Café Moto used to welcome patrons for new American fare and live jazz, now sits Bar Velo. On the outside, the trappings are the same: rusted metal front door with a kitchen-style keyhole window; neat chalkboard font promising live music inside; in place of a “BAR” sign, a cruiser bike, hanging about eight feet overhead and jutting out onto the sidewalk on the South side of Broadway.
On the inside, a flatiron layout pinches the space toward the entrance. Tour de France art and cycling paraphernalia lines the walls. Decorative taps sit next to real ones, and sprigs of fresh herbs poke out of glasses at the bar.
Does it get anymore Williamsburg than this? (Spoiler: It does.)
We got to chow down on an all-vegan snack menu, decidedly the standout feature of the bar (as per Brokelyn’s vegan-heavy editorial staff). $9 for lentil paté may seem steep — let’s be honest, it is — but with a dearth of cheap all-vegan bar menus in the borough, Bar Velo has pretty much “cornered” the market (get it? Because they’re on a corner).
Bar Velo opened officially yesterday, Nov. 1. Velo co-owner John McCormick, who also owned Café Moto, told Brokelyn the bar’s décor was inspired by his personal narrative as an avid cyclist. McCormick recalled marveling at cities that had open-air velodromes, wide tracks for cycling races where a restaurant or café could sit squarely (er, roundly) in the middle and observe the action.
That, and he loved Triplets of Belleville — The font for the bar’s logo was actually inspired by design elements of the film.
The vegan menu exists for the fact that McCormick, along with his partner and business co-owner, Vanessa Shanks, are both vegan. And Meghan Haas, the general manager who designed the food menu, had a vegan upbringing. Other menu items include a black bean portobello burger with garlic aioli and avocado on a pretzel bun ($12), homemade flatbread with marinated tempeh, hummus, pickles and red slaw ($10) and a whole steamed artichoke with lemon garlic aioli ($9). Dessert-wise, there’s a date cake, a coconut milk panacotta and grilled vegan donuts.
All told, upscale vegan bar fare isn’t the worst thing to happen to this stretch of the neighborhood along Broadway, which otherwise has few diet-friendly dining options, or good bars, for that matter, except for Trophy Bar. The apps here are expensive, but for what it’s worth they’re damn good, and there’s a $7 bowl of mac and cheese with shiitake bacon for anyone looking for comfort at a lower cost.
Happy hour is where you’ll save your money, once it arrives: $4 beers and $5 house wines are coming. Just like winter, which is exactly when you’ll almost certainly find yourself frequenting this cozy bar for some live jazz (Fridays and Saturdays), vegan snacks and a glass of wine.
Sure, Sam Corbin’s a biking vegan, but don’t let that stop you: @ahoysamantha