New Washington Avenue Cafe Stakes Claim to Central Brooklyn No-Man's-Land

By Sonja Sharp | March 27, 2013 2:38pm

PROSPECT HEIGHTS — A new bar on Washington Avenue hopes to heat up nightlife in the no-man's-land between Prospect Heights, Crown Heights and Clinton Hill.

"It’s the corner spot, the northern end of the nightlife strip," said Bradford Nicoll, co-owner of the newly-opened cafe and bar The Saint Catherine. "It’s the opportunity to break a little new ground."

The cafe, which opened last Monday for happy hour and settled into its full menu this week, sits at the corner of Bergen Street and Washington Avenue, a sparse stretch of the otherwise nosh-filled neighborhood. To the north lies Clinton Hill's popular Hot Bird. To the south, Prospect Heights staples like the Way Station and Minor Arcana.

"There’s a lot of nice restaurants and a lot of good bars, but there’s not anything that’s doing a casual, meet your friends, get a bite to eat bar," Nicoll said.

The Saint Catherine strives to be "something for everybody", offering cafe fare from 8 a.m. every morning, boozy brunch on the weekends and comfort food with casual cocktails until the wee hours of the morning.

It's something of a gamble. The Washington Avenue borderland hasn't been easy on newcomers — the buzzed-about French American bistro Ortine languished just a block away, struggling with insufficient foot traffic before closing late last year.

Fortunately, Saint Catherine co-owner Sara Williams is no stranger to interstitial spaces — her South Street Seaport spot Fresh Salt was among the first to reopen after Hurricane Sandy.

"That’s part of the strip that’s yet to see the nightlife," Nicoll said of the Central Brooklyn strip. "We’re hoping it can connect this part of Washington Avenue with Clinton Hill and what's going on up there."