Something Stinky This Way Comes: Denizen, a Cheese-centric Restaurant in Williamsburg

November 25, 2016 8:36 am Last Updated: November 27, 2016 3:50 pm

Williamsburg is getting a cheese-centric restaurant and wine bar on Dec. 2, with the opening of Denizen from restaurateur Liam Seide. Shareable plates with local ingredients are combined with artisanal cheeses from all over the globe. There is, naturally, much ado about cheese.

With a small universe of cheese at his fingertips, executive chef John Poiarkoff dishes out some creative plates, such as a playful take on French onion soup, but “flipped upside down as a hearty toast,” he said. There’s no run-of-the-mill cheese here.

Poiarkoff is a big fan of funky wash-rind cheeses—some with an allium note, reminiscent of onions, he explained—and had tasted Timberdoodle at the Saxelby Cheese cave in Brooklyn. “We instantly knew it was the right fit [for the toast]. It’s a taleggio-style cheese from Woodcock Farm in Vermont that’s smooth and creamy, with just the right amount of earthy, meaty funk,” he said. “It has a muskiness to it that reminded me of oxtail. I decided to swap the traditional beef broth for braised oxtail on the spot.”

Most of the cheeses in the dishes will also be available a la carte, with a rotation of stand-alone cheeses, available by the ounce, to come.

Fromager Emily Lindh is curating a cheese list that includes various styles, milk types, and ages. One highlight is the Tubby from Crown Finish Caves in Crown Heights, right in the fair borough of Brooklyn. It’s a raw cow’s milk cheese made in Vermont but aged locally, 30 feet underground. “In addition to having the traditional, smooth nuttiness of an alpine-style cheese, there is an unrecognizable flavor that shines though that must be Brooklyn terroir. It’s delicious!” Lindh said.

Wine director and partner Chris Wilford focuses on European and American wines, offered at different price points. Poiarkoff sung the praises of Weingut Weszeli “Langenlois,” a biodynamic Grüner Veltliner, with the Smoked Long Island Bluefish spread; as well as Mushroom Toast with an organic syrah from the northern Rhone region, from Vincent Paris. “Its earthiness is a natural pairing with mushrooms and it has enough bright acidity to cut through the funky cheese on top,” he said.

Open daily for dinner except Tuesdays. Weekend brunch service and weekday morning grab-and-go café to come.

88 Roebling St. (at North Seventh Street)
North Williamsburg, Brooklyn