With a name like Boneshakers, the irony of this new Greenpoint eatery lies in its vegetarian and vegan cuisine.
Open since November, the coffee and sandwich shop is named by owners Brad Baker and Megan Blackburn after the first bike ever made.The original Boneshaker was built of wood and steel in the 1800s, the front wheel was considerably larger then the back, and it was propelled by pegs instead of peddles. Its no coincidence that Baker also owns the Trackstar bike shop on the Lower East Side. It shouldnt come as a surprise then that riding a bike might be the easiest way to get to Boneshakers (where dishes are named after bike parts and races are screened), as it sits on Kingsland Avenue, a healthy walk from the closest subway: the G train at Nassau Avenue.
Once you walk through the tall, wooden-framed doors and into the airy, sunlit space, however, the walk behind you is easily forgotten.
On a recent afternoon, Swedish death metal quietly rocked through the speakers and, at the handmade salvaged wood counter, a pretty redhead with tattoos and a bright smile took my order.The menu consists of sandwiches, burgers, bagels and pastries; it seems like a spot where local grad students would drop by for a soy latte or scone before heading to a protest. (It can also fill the void in the hood left by the beloved, if short-lived, vegetarian diner The William Taft).
Boneshakers has over a dozen sandwich choices ($4-$8.50), most of them vegan, and all of them meat free. All of the vegan baking ($2-$2.50) is done in the tiny kitchen located to the left of the coffee bar and all of the other pastries ($2.50-$3) and breads come from Balthazar bakery. I opted for tea instead of coffee, but since the beans are from Williamsburg mainstay Gimme! Coffee, Im sure its excellent.
For lunch my companion and I ordered a few sandwiches: the Rebel Cruiser, the Merckx Werx and the Kiochi. Due to a made rush of cyclists earlier that day, we were told the sandwiches wouldnt come the usual Kaiser roll, but on a longer, hoagie-like rolls.
Which means more for you, Baker said when he brought the food to our table.The meals dont come with sides, so the extra heft was appreciated.
The first one we sampled was the Merckx Werx ($8), which was served hot and consisted of Tofurky, sham (vegan ham), olive tapenade, chipotle mayo, tomato and lettuce. Despite the odd color of the fake meat, the sandwich looked tasty.The bread, sham and Tofurky were warm, a nice contrast to the crunch of the lettuce and coolness of the tomato.The salty tapenade was an excellent touch.
Having to stuff ingredients back into sagging bread is one of the things I hate the most about sandwiches, and as I wrapped my lips around another bite, I was pleasantly surprised at how well the sandwich stayed together.
Our next sampling was the Kiochi ($6.50), Boneshakers take on the classic vegan sandwich made of avocado, sprouts and cucumber with a spicy aioli.The ingredients tasted fresh, but the light sandwich felt more like an afternoon tea snack than a hearty hero. My friend liked it, but agreed he wouldnt be prone to ordering it again on such a cold, windy day. As is almost always the case with avocado, the portion was way too small.
As the music got louder, it became difficult to hear my friend tell me what he thought of the barbecue-seitan-and-coleslawstuffed Rebel Cruiser ($6.50).What we lost in gossip, we gained in culinary pleasure.The savory chunks of seitan werent too sweet, and the coleslaw gave the sandwich a nice bite. I relished in the intricacy of the toasted sesame roll surrounding the heft. Because I dont have a bike, the most annoying thing about this café was the location; being geographically challenged, especially on the back streets of Greenpoint, I ended up walking in circles trying to find it. But in the end, it was worth the trip.With Bakers dedication to quick, cheap and tasty vegan food, Boneshakers wont need wheels to be on a roll.
134 Kingsland Ave. (at Beadel St.), Brooklyn, 718-963-0656