Buried away behind a typical Bushwick warehouse facade is an elegant bar/theater/kitchen that offers a unique, indulgent “dinner and a movie” experience. This is Syndicated Bar + Theater + Kitchen (Syndicated BK), where a nondescript doorway leads into a newly-renovated warehouse space complete with a square bar, plenty of seating and a 56-seat theater that plays a rotation of themed programming. You might pop in for a $3 showing of The Devil Wears Prada, only to notice an in-theater menu that serves up high-class movie snacks much like the Nitehawk or soon-to-be-opened Alamo Brooklyn.
But you don’t need a ticket to enjoy Syndicated BK’s culinary stars and killer cocktail program. Owner Tim Chung rolls out the red carpet for lunch, dinner and brunch menus that all feature fresh takes on comfort favorites. What, you’ve never ordered Mojo Skewers to munch on while watching Anchorman for the twentieth time? The vibe here is extremely accommodating, whether you’re in the mood for some starchy Loaded Tater-Tots, or a more grown-up dish like Grilled Calamari. Just remember, this is still Hipsterville – you’ll get an expansive menu, but also the prices that come along with more high-quality ingredients. A product of quality, so plan accordingly.
Chung’s rookie establishment hasn’t even been opened a year, but people are already taking notice. Syndicated BK was recently voted “Best Bloody Mary – Traditional” at the 2016 Brooklyn Bloody Mary Fest, and hosts are already starting to bring monthly screening events to Syndicated BK’s calendar. For example, yours truly shows nostalgic, cult-classic, absolutely essential horror movies on the last Wednesday of every month (Syndicated Scream Night!). This gives Chung’s team creative freedom to come up with some thematic cocktails/special dishes that go along with each screening (Alien Day had a “Facehugger” concoction), which isn’t offered anywhere else.
Here’s the skinny: Syndicated BK charges typical NYC prices, but with quality that warrants your hard-earned bucks. Cocktails aren’t just a few liquors thrown together – chia seeds are rehydrated in jalapeño and fresno chili juice, or injected with house made popcorn syrup. These guys are frying fiddlehead ferns, and letting you munch on slow-cooked lamb ribs in the comfort of a cushy cinema. “But why would I go out when I can just watch my favorite movies at home?” Because a theater-going experience always beats an at-home watch, especially with on-point food service.
Since we’re talking about the food, let’s run down some highlights during my multiple visits…
Slow Cooked Bacon Nachos (marinated peppers, blue cheese, scallions): You are starting here, every time. Think of it as a starter-salad, except instead of lettuce there’s crisp tortilla chips (THAT DON’T BREAK!!!), the dressing is a creamy blue cheese sauce, marinated peppers (Peperoncino and such) provide a fresh, spicy kick, and large bacon croutons glisten in their meat-cube glory. Sizable chunks of tender, thick-cut bacon. You can say these are definitely na-cho everyday movie theater snack… [pauses for Pulitzer recognition]
Hot Mess Chicken Sandwich (hot sauce, coleslaw, blue cheese dressing, fries): Exactly as advertised, and appropriately described. This is the kind of mess you assess, mentally prepare for, and dive into with excited vigor. It’s essentially a spicy pulled-chicken sandwich, but between succulent chicken and a creamy balance between sauces, this is more than just a “Buffalo Chicken Sandwich” – it’s the hot mess you date even though all your friends say he’s/she’s not right for you. Don’t listen to them. Each bite is a sloppy, yummy marriage of chicken, stanky cheese, lively coleslaw and everything that’s right about Southern cooking.
Carnival Doughnuts (cinnamon, sugar, strawberry compote): They come out all freshly popped and hot, smothered in a decadent strawberry compote that warms ever-so-slightly over the aromatic dough fritters. You’re immediately drawn back to boardwalk experiences like eating zeppolis from the bag, except these are of a more adult mindset.
Syndicated House Burger (caramelized onion, seasoned pickles, brioche, fries): Burgers are my jam, and while this isn’t the BEST burger in NYC, it’s still a pretty tasty one. Add a slice of cheese and enjoy the simplistic joys of savory, melty onions caramelized in their own juices. Go for the Royale W/ Cheese if you’re in-theater – because Pulp Fiction references always win.
Buttermilk Fried Chicken (french fries with honey mustard, radish salad): Syndicated BK has a handle on the Southern game, and their fried chicken brings that cozy country comfort. My buddy ordered it the first time and had one of those “You gotta try this” moments. I did try it, and can confirm that my eyes lit up the same way. Comfort by way of deep-fried fowl.
Cocktails – I’m a Lawnmower Man myself (hophead vodka, cachaca, market green juice, chili syrup, carrot juice, lime), but their Stormtrooper quickly rose the ranks (caliche rum, mint, popcorn syrup, ginger, lime). Both have a muy caliente kick, but taste of Spring freshness. Order any signature – these guys/gals know what they’re doing. Oh, and that Bloody Mary is damn good too (more for those who love breathing fire).
Syndicated Bar + Theater + Kitchen is more than just a home away from home for movie fans. This isn’t a “food first” or “movie first” kind of place. Chung has put together an ensemble cast that plays wonderfully off each other’s strengths, from boozy delights to culinary highlights that compliment an ever-changing, eclectic rotation of worthwhile cinema. Come for a drink, stay for dinner, catch a movie, or do all three – you can’t really go wrong with a triple feature.