Marcus Vineyard Brings an International Spin to Tapas in Bed-Stuy

By Paul DeBenedetto on April 12, 2013 10:24am 

BEDFORD-STUYVESANT — A new bar opening in Bedford-Stuyvesant this weekend will feature a beer garden, infused cocktails and an international take on traditional Spanish tapas.

Marcus Vineyard, at 417 Marcus Garvey Boulevard, is the brain child of fireman Carlos Munroe and former Airman Nisha McNair. The two envisioned the spot as a place for locals to relax and unwind, though it also represents the culmination of a dream McNair has had since leaving the Air Force, she said.

"This has been my passion for years," said the 39-year-old McNair. "I just figured now was the time. Before I turn 40, I just wanted to focus on the next chapter of my life."

McNair and Munroe enlisted the help of chef Bintoo N'Daw, a chef who has studied in Paris and Barcelona, and has previously worked in the kitchens of Lower East Side restaurant Ten Bells, now-closed West Village restaurant Day-O and Boerum Hill kosher French restaurant Pardes, which the 37-year-old chef points to as a major influence.

Marcus Vineyard's menu is tapas influenced by different cultures around the world, N'Daw said. She was inspired by New York's diversity.

"New York is really multicultural, and I think we all have a palate that's pretty open," N'Daw said. "In New York you can go to a Thai food [restaurant] on Monday, and Tuesday Japanese and Thursday Jamaican. So that would be the idea."

Items include curry-coconut chicken, tempura yam, Chilean ceviche, shrimp and shitake mushrooms, coconut-ginger mussels and lamb kefta, N'Daw said. The chef said they'll start serving brunch in a few weeks.

The bar also features a roughly 400-square-foot backyard beer garden, with cushioned benches and tables for the warmer months.

Behind the bar, 12 beers are on tap, and head bartender Jonathan Beck, 35, is creating seasonal, infused cocktails with fresh ingredients and, going forward, as many as four types of sangria.

But Beck, who previously worked at Gowanus bar Littlefield, and Clinton Hill bars the Cornerstone and the now-closed Speakeasy, said the idea was to make Marcus Vineyard feel more down-to-earth than a "high-end cocktail bar."

"I'm really big on neighborhood spots," Beck said. "It's a more homey, more neighborhood kind of vibe. You get to build relationships."

That assesment suits McNair, who lives in the neighborhood, just fine.

"Bed-Stuy is a really nice area," she said. "This is home. I couldn't picture doing it anywhere else."

Marcus Vineyard opens Saturday, April 13 at 5 p.m.

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