By Rebecca Henely
In creating the menu for her new Long Island City restaurant Bear, at 12-14 31st Ave., Chef Natasha Pogrebinsky has drawn from the sum of her experiences.
“You’re in New York, you’re influenced by so many different cultures,” she said.
Growing up in Cleveland, Ohio, in a Russian family that loves to cook, Pogrebinsky said she has food memories from when she was young.
After deciding to leave her profession as a teacher and become a chef, she went to French culinary school. Combining those two influences with her experience working with Japanese and Italian chefs, she has created a style of food she refers to as “New European.”
“It really comes from this philosophy that there is a new Europe,” said Natasha Pogrebinsky’s brother, Alex, who is partnering with her in the restaurant.
Some examples of this post-Cold War cuisine include roasted duck with potato and granny smith apples, a chicken roulade with carrot ginger gravy, a roasted rabbit in white wine sauce and three shots of vodka meant to be drunk with cured meats, pickled vegetables and an egg mimosa.
“People right now want to try new things, and they’re excited,” Alex Pogrebinsky said. “But at the same time it’s not like something you would have every couple of months.”
Natasha and Alex Pogrebinsky, who opened Bear in November with the help of their parents, also relied on their history in choosing the restaurant’s name. When traveling from New York to Cleveland on Interstate 80, they would often stop by a wooden carving of a bear.
“It’s an animal that a lot of people like,” Alex Pogrebinsky said. “It’s cuddly, but it’s also strong and it likes fresh food.”
Bear opened in November, but was receiving good reviews even before it opened. The restaurant participated in Queens Uncorked, an event that paired wineries with local restaurants.
“People definitely came back for seconds and even thirds,” Natasha Pogrebinsky said.
The Pogrebinskys said they are happy to be in Long Island City and planned to open the restaurant either in the neighborhood or in Astoria.
“It’s really beautiful,” Natasha Pogrebinsky said. “Just a block away there’s gorgeous views of Manhattan.”
Appetizers at Bear range from around $9 to $16 while entrees cost $19 to $29. Bear also serves 15 different types of wine and beer and has a liquor bar.
Dinner at Bear is served from 5:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. The bar is open from 5 p.m. to 2 a.m. Sunday through Thursday and 5 p.m. to 4 a.m. Friday and Saturday.
Reach reporter Rebecca Henely by e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at 718-260-4564.