It was 5:45pm on a recent Tuesday evening in early spring, with the trees just starting to bud on the streets around Fort Greene Park. Inside the park’s corner entrance, a blooming cherry tree was busy single-handedly curing instances of seasonal affective disorder in passersby, while on the opposite corner, Walter’s’ two walls of windows were doing the same for the handful of customers already seated and gazing out of them.
My boyfriend and I nabbed the two seats at the end of the mostly empty curved bar. It was the kind of leisurely choice that can be made at Walter’s only before 7pm on a weeknight. Later, or on weekends during brunch or dinner, Walter’s can seem like too small a space for so clamoring a scene (although a decade ago I may not have felt this way), and enjoyment of a bar-stool perch is invariably tempered by the bodies two rows deep attempting to sidle in to place their drink orders. In the dusky light of the now, though, the vaguely Victorian atmosphere veered cozy—antique-y black and white patterns punctuated by dark wood and brass fixtures. Walter’s at this time of day has the effect of making me wish I’d put on a dress.
We happened to get the bartender during his first shift on the job, and while he didn’t yet know what went into the eponymous Walter’s Punch, we knew it was still too cold outside for it anyway, and he nailed the Gold Rush cocktail I ordered instead, made of whiskey, honey and lime. Down the bar, a lone man in the peak of a vigorous middle age feasted on oysters from the raw bar menu (half price before 6pm some nights). A few minutes later, a younger guy came in and ordered a burger. We shared an artichoke dip that comes in second on our all-time best-of list for that dish (to Freeman’s on the Lower East Side, if you’re wondering), and is assisted in that ranking by being accompanied by plentiful bread chips that tend to outlast the dip, a true rarity. We finished them up and darted out just before seven, making some incoming patrons grateful for our cleared out seats.
Walter’s Bar Dining Basics:
Number of stools: 12
Bar Stool Comfort: moderate, no backrests
Bartenders: classic, friendly, capable and enthusiastic about their profession
166 Dekalb Avenue, at Cumberland
-Words by Sarah Stodola | Image by Micilin O’Donaghue