When you think of the South Bronx, you don’t necessarily think of fine cuisine and culinary orgasms, but you may be surprised when you walk through the doors of Charlie’s Bar & Kitchen on Lincoln Avenue.
Charlie’s opened in Spring 2012 and is located in the South Bronx’s premier historic landmark building the Clock Tower—currently home luxury lofts and artists’ studios. In the heart of the Bronx’s Mott Haven neighborhood, the area is starting to see some renovation and changes of late, which is refreshing for a part of the Bronx with such a unique history.
Since they have an open kitchen , peer over the counter and see what the chef is up to, such as this interesting mixture. Southern style meets Funky, Hip and Modern.
Another interesting factoid to note is that they grow some of their own vegetables on the roof. I also learned that rooftop gardens in New York are a growing trends, no grave surprise given the shortage of land/space and the desire to go as organic and local as you can. Why not grow it yourself if you can? Chef Joshua Bedford (originally from Texas) takes great pride in the fact that they can and do grow organic sustainable food on their roof, including root veggies and some of my favorites like peppers and okra.
Two things I absolutely love about this place – the owner is hip and cool (be sure to ask him about his life journey and travels), the place is open till late and has a funky and hip ambiance with the bar at the front of the establishment and the tables in the rear near the open kitchen (lots of brick here because of its historical past – did you know it was once a piano factory?) and third, the food, while southern and a bit heavier than I normally eat, was delicious.
While many of the dishes may be on the heavier side, they do have oysters, and a nice selection of salads, which you can also get vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free, impressive for the area. They had a yummy beet salad which I ordered with shrimp. Imagine golden beets, arugula, tomato, goat cheese, pickled okra all tossed in a scallion vinaigrette with jumbo shrimp on top? Yum!! (second photo down)
If you’re not on a diet and want to play full out, there’s the smoked chile pork rinds to start or the beer cheese with a toasted pretzel. On the simpler side, they also offer fish and chicken tacos (Bronx IPA battered of course) and served with cabbage, cilantro slaw and a jalapeno lime sauce. You’ll notice the southern style infusion throughout.
Even so, you can even get those tacos gluten free if you’re gluten intolerant. And sure, they have a burger or fish & chips if you want to have more of a bar experience but if you’re in the foodie mood, I’d suggest the Smoked Game Hen, which they serve with ginger chile glaze and roasted potatoes. Note that they were out of this when we were there, but I have heard good things. Their menu also changes so be sure to check their website for the latest specials and updates before going.
The sweet pea pappardelle was out of this world – served with sweet peas, arugula, parmesan & black pepper!!
There’s also the flounder fried in a Bronx IPA batter, Charlie’s tartar sauce and thick cut fries or the Wolfneck’s Farm cut New York Strip, which is served with roasted tomatoes, mustard seeded potatoes and horseradish sour cream.
Now for something a little special – the Mexican Street Corn. We were so glad we ordered this despite my part of my brain which occasionally controls my waistline saying No, No, No! This delicious corn on the cob was served with queso fresco, sour cream, and lemon thyme. The combination was out of this world as was the presentation. Let’s just say “unique” enough to trek in for this alone, with an accompanying local beer. Ask the chef for the best pairing.
The desserts are a little on the decadent side as well. We finished it off with some hot coffee and a glass of wine. Our only plea is that we hope they expand their wine selection by the bottle and by the glass in the future.
We absolutely loved our experience and were pleasantly surprised to see a restaurant so dedicated to fresh food in the South Bronx. If only they could grow that okra and other vegetables on the roof year round, or at least a little longer than last year if New York doesn’t experience as much snow and ice this year.
On the logistical side, we easily found parking right out front.
Charlies Bar & Kitchen
112 Lincoln Avenue
Bronx, NY 10454
Note: we were hosted by all opinions expressed are entirely my own.