St. Anselm is a restaurant on Metropolitan Avenue in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, right where Havemeyer Street doglegs out of its run of wig shops and bodegas to become residential. It is an offshoot of Joe Carroll’s barbecue restaurant Fette Sau, across the street, and of his bar Spuyten Duyvil, next door.
St. Anselm first opened in 2010 as a highbrow-lowbrow bar-food mecca, known primarily for foie-gras pirogies and a deep-fried hot-dog sandwich called the Newark Double. It closed soon after. In June, Mr. Carroll swapped out the fryers for a massive grill, and turned the place into a neighborhood restaurant devoted to the pleasures of open fire and good ingredients simply cooked. St. Anselm was reborn.
Smart thinking. The new iteration is charming, with a pulsing bass line of ambition beneath its simple steakhouse melody. Yvon de Tassigny, the restaurant’s chef, has matched great live-fire technique to excellent groceries, and reveals himself to be a master of off-cut lamb and beef. And his iceberg salad, served below warm bacon vinaigrette that melts a scattering of blue cheese across the top and softens the exterior of the crisp lettuce, is among the great things to eat on the north side of Williamsburg.
Like the real-life St. Anselm, the restaurant makes an ontological argument. If we can conceive of an affordable steakhouse on the same block as the Metro Line cab stand and the Brooklyn home of the Knitting Factory, then surely such a thing must exist. And here it is now: St. Anselm is Keens for the millennial set, a Bar Americain for the riders of fixed-gear bikes.
Known as the ‘Butcher’s Steak’ at dinner, you can have their hormone-free Angus beef in their Steak and Eggs. Six ounces of the steak is parceled out for this dish along with a side of grilled fingerling potatoes and two eggs cooked any style. Get the eggs over easy and you’ll have thick golden yolk to dip that steak into. Every bite becomes even richer and more fragrant with the help of melted garlic butter and sprinkled parsley.
If you don’t want to endure the infamous wait to get a seat for dinner at Williamsburg’s St. Anselm, go during brunch hours, when you can sometimes just walk right in and still have a good meal. Though they won’t be serving the big-ticket items from the grill that fans rave about, you can still have a taste of one of their most lauded cuts of beef: the hanger steak.
In addition to other meaty options, like a sweet tea-brined chicken and a hulking lamb shoulder blade chop, the restaurant has just two regular steak offerings, a hanger — which comes doused in garlic butter — and a Flinstonian tomahawk ribeye for two
The Butchers Steak itself was completely worth the wait. It was grilled masterfully, beyond juicy etc. — but that’s just technical. What really stood out with this particular hanger cut was the taste. The steak was packed with flavor — the kind of flavor that takes hours of thought for a chef to put together (or at least, seems like it) and stays with customers for days.
It’s the kind of flavor you obsess over, the kind you tell your friends about.