Serving Drinks Since 1847: An Old-Time Establishment With a Modern Menu
In a city with many claims to history, the Bridge Café is truly in a class of its own. Housed in an old wooden building dating to the late 18th century, the establishment has been a bar of one stripe or another since 1847 – the longest continuous streak in New York City. That means they were serving drinks there back when the city’s mayor was a member of the Whig party! Once a popular watering hole for dockworkers, the Bridge Café is now a favorite haunt of those who live and work in the Financial District. How the neighborhood has changed!
We spoke recently with owner Adam Weprin about his restaurant, famous for its mouthwatering soft-shell crabs and extensive scotch and whiskey selection. In the Weprin family since 1979, the Bridge Café boasts between 85-100 single malt scotches, 20 blends and 30 whiskeys and bourbons. An all-American wine list contains selections well suited to the entrees.
Speaking of entrees, one of Bridge Café’s most popular dishes is the buffalo steak, shipped in weekly from the Midwest and served with a delicious homemade lingonberry sauce. The grilled hanger steak and lean buffalo burger are must-haves as well.
“The steak we serve is very tender and delicate,” says Weprin. “And when in season we serve soft shell crabs, which are amazing. We have them from April to October and they are flash-fried, meaning lightly fried. I’ve had people from the South, who eat this every day, ask me what we did that gave it that great taste.” Of the buffalo steak, the oldest dish on the menu, Weprin says, “We’ve had different chef’s cook it but when our current chef Joseph Kunst makes it, it is truly velvet in the form of meat.”
With all this talk of meat, you’ll be surprised to know that Bridge Café is decidedly vegetarian friendly. “No one likes to feel left out,” says Weprin. “I know vegetarians come here with their meat-eating friends and they have to eat too!” Options include a scrumptious black bean and portobello veggie burger and the “Strata Bercovici,” named for a onetime regular customer, consisting of grilled vegetables, goat cheese, spinach and sweet pea farrotto.
When New York’s ban on beekeeping was lifted last year, Weprin put six hives on the roof. So not only is he serving up some of the freshest food in the city, he’s also pollinating local gardens. It is a sweet gesture that extends well beyond the Financial District. And while the Whig party may no longer be around, New York City’s mayors certainly are. From Koch to Bloomberg to members of the city council, local politicians know that Bridge Café is a true treasure. Step inside and you’ll discover the charm and appeal of this jewel at the foot of the Brooklyn Bridge.
279 Water Street
New York, NY 10038