Good Vibes seemed to emanate from the storefront on Smith Street.
Sunken Hundred (276 Smith Street, between Sackett Street and DeGraw Street) is a new Welsh gastropub in Cobble Hill that has offered strange spellings, weird pronunciations, and an offbeat menu of Welsh classics and reinterpretations thereof since opening in September. Inside, the lighting has a reddish hue by the bar and white elsewhere, while much of what adorns the walls makes light of the Welsh language.
“I literally have to walk people through the menu,” said Tori, my server, after she had helped me order without much prompting. That menu, as well as much of the interior, was created through the labour of the owners, Illtyd Barrett and his brother, as well as executive chef Tom Coughlan. Relatedly, Sunken Hundred’s website has a must-read origin story.
Coughlan told me that the menu for Sunken Hundred was born out of recipes which ranged from the traditional to what he “thought traditional was.” He also explained that the menu is constantly changing and evolving and they’d like to keep it that way.
With Tori acting as my Fluellen through some of the more unpronounceable dishes, I settled on the $25 prix fixe. That meant excluding some of the seafood “shares” which are said to be fantastic, but the value was too good to pass up.
My meal started with a small plate of snacks made of sourdough and seaweed, that reminded me of the delicious nibbles at Cultura in Clinton Hill. These salty, slightly unctuous little bites were addictive, as each piece varied between being small and crunchy or bigger and chewier.
Tori suggested the fish churros as a starter, but upon learning that the lamb pasty ($8) was among the most popular dishes, I decided to follow the crowd. I’m glad that I did.
A pasty is a bit like an empanada, but this pasty’s buttery crust and chewy ground lamb filling are totally unique. It came with a tomato chutney which cut some of the heaviness of the pasty.
My entree and side dish came shortly after I finished the pasty. I had ordered the ffagodau ($14) as my main and, at Tori’s insistence, complimented it with the braised leeks ($7).
I ordered the ffagodau for a few reasons: a) I was told they were among the most popular dishes on the menu, b) the description of meatballs with minty peas, yogurt and onion gravy really appealed to me, c) the name reminded me of Ouagadougou, which is perhaps my favourite name of any city.
The treasure of ffagodou lurked under the meatballs, in the minty peas. Their coldness took me aback at first, but I quickly found them irresistible. They are creamy, owing to avocado, and utterly different. I have no idea if these peas are authentic, but I am certain that they are fantastic.
The braised leaks were chewy, in a garlicky and slightly creamy sauce. They provided a wonderful compliment (and some much needed fiber) to my otherwise heavy meal.
I had the bara brith ($9) for dessert. This piece of slightly burnt, fruit laden tea cake was matched with utterly spectacular homemade rum and walnut ice cream. The richness of the ice cream and the slightly spiced flavors of the cake made for a wonderful rejoinder to the meal.
My hunch about Sunken Hundred’s vibe was confirmed through my meal. Whether it was Tori’s impeccable and approach service, or the repartee that seemingly every customer engaged in, it’s hard not to enjoy your time at Sunken Hundred. That the menu is homespun and filled with goodies you’re unlikely to see elsewhere. I’m heading back, sooner rather than later, to try the shares and perhaps dive into the brunch menu.
The Restaurant Rundown: Sunken Hundred
Address: 276 Smith Street, between Sackett Street and DeGraw Street
Try: The more consonants a menu item has, the better it probably is.
Avoid: Nothing, but rather, veer towards the less conventional dishes.
Kids: Nothing says no, but the crowd was certainly more adult.