A hometown bar. A living room. A “non-French” French restaurant. A place for long conversations. These are just some of the words that Mona Poor-Olschafskie and Christian Perkins use to talk about Fin Du Monde, their just-opened restaurant and bar at 38 Driggs Avenue, at Sutton Street, in Greenpoint. The duo’s vision for the restaurant is multifaceted, but their first priority is to create a place where residents in the neighborhood feel welcome.
“We wanted to open a place that we would want to go to ourselves,” says Poor-Olschafskie, a hospitality industry veteran who lives a few blocks from Fin Du Monde. “A place that was accessible, not a place with a huge super-expensive wine list or lots of ingredients nobody knows how to pronounce.”
To note, neither Poor-Olschafskie nor Perkins have much experience working in those types of restaurants, despite each having been in the hospitality industry for more than a decade. Before opening Fin Du Monde, Poor-Olschafskie worked at several of the city’s leading breweries, including Threes Brewing in Gowanus and two spots in Carroll Gardens, Other Half Brewing and Folksbier Brauerei. Beers from her old haunts have made their way to the menu at Fin Du Monde, which in addition to a few bottles of wine serves a lager from Folksbier and an IPA from Threes on tap.
The restaurant’s food menu is loosely French-American but strictly local, a pairing that Perkins picked up while working for restaurateur Andrew Tarlow at hit restaurants such as Diner, Marlow and Sons, and its offshoot butcher shop Marlow and Daughters. Most recently, he helped open Annicka, a brief but well-received Greenpoint restaurant that focused on seasonal food and local craft beer. There’s a similar ethos behind Fin Du Monde, according to Perkins, which aims to serve locally sourced produce and meat without charging more than $30 for an entree, which isn’t uncommon at many upscale restaurants in the city.
“It’s a tightrope walk, but it’s possible,” Perkins says. “You have to create a very, very tight menu that isn’t reliant upon luxury ingredients.”
All told, the food menu at Fin Du Monde is 10 items long, desserts included, and Perkins keeps things simple. The restaurant serves a “big French salad” topped with fried walnuts and funky Roquefort cheese ($13). Further down the menu, there’s a roast chicken and pepper risotto ($22), along with a braised boeuf bourguignon that comes with buttery noodles ($24). These dishes are meant to invoke a French bistro or a Parisian natural wine bar — but only sort of.
“It’s a non-French French place,” Perkins says. “It has a French name, but we like the goofiness of it.”
Like countless other restaurant owners, Poor-Olschafskie and Perkins had been planning Fin Du Monde long before the start of the pandemic in March. In July 2019, the duo launched a GoFundMe campaign to help open the restaurant and assist with construction costs. More than a year and nearly $20,000 in donations later, Perkins likened Fin Du Monde to a “train rolling down the tracks” that couldn’t be stopped. “We had no choice but to keep going, and we wouldn’t have wanted to stop anyway,” he says.
As for the name — translated as “end of the world” in French — Perkins says the restaurant is the kind of place “you want to be at the end of the world,” which he quickly adds is, thankfully, not right now.
Fin Du Monde has roughly 20 seats for outdoor dining and six seats inside at the state-mandated 25 percent capacity. The restaurant is open Tuesday to Saturday from 5 to 10 p.m. and closed Sunday through Monday.