A sprawling new outdoor restaurant and bar has opened in the backyard of Bushwick events space 99 Scott. Outerspace, a mostly-vegetarian American restaurant, will serve its first meal tonight.
The restaurant, located at 99 Scott Avenue, near Randolph Street, is equipped with enough umbrellas, picnic tables, and potted plants to seat 126 socially distant diners outdoors. It bears noting, however, that even at maximum capacity, the backyard restaurant’s potted plants still outnumber its customers two-to-one. “It looks kind of like a tropical garden back there,” says Molly McIver, who co-founded 99 Scott with Wells Stellberger in 2017.
For all its resemblance to the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, though, Outerspace is first and foremost a restaurant, and chefs Conner Updegrave and Luis Herrera are serious about their food. The two chefs, who previously worked in the kitchens at popular restaurants Blanca and Cosme, respectively, build the restaurant’s weekly menu around what’s available at the Union Square Farmers Market.
Though the food at Outerspace changes from week-to-week, the menu leans American with influence from Mexican culinary tradition. Summer melon, one of the restaurant’s bar snacks, is doused with chile and lime; the restaurant’s rotisserie chicken, also available as a “rotisserie mushroom,” is topped with cilantro and served alongside mole verde; and its corn dish, covered in scallions, cashews, basil, and chiles, calls to mind Mexican elote. More traditional bar fare, like a white cheddar burger with basil mayo and four varieties of sourdough pizza, are also available for outdoor dining.
For drinks, Outerspace offers a short list of local craft beers, ciders, and natural wines. Its cocktails menu — which also includes a few non-alcoholic aguas frescas — consists of a half-dozen summery drinks, like a mezcal margarita made using watermelon and a coconut rum slush mixed with orange Red Bull. All of the restaurant’s cocktails are available for $14 each or served in a $60 pitcher, which serves five.
Aside from the space itself, one of the many calling cards of Outerspace lies in the restaurant’s hours. Its backyard stays open until 11 p.m. on weekends, and until 9 p.m. on Sundays, which might not have been noteworthy in pre-pandemic times, but venues staying open that late have become more and more rare, McIver says.
The co-founders have plans to bring nightly entertainment to the restaurant, and, true to their roots as a community event space, are drawing on support from their neighbors. For its opening weekend, local artists Numero Group and Chances with Wolves will be curating playlists for the venue, while Mike Egan of local studio Ramiken Gallery will be hosting weekly film screenings on Thursday evening.
99 Scott opened as a community events space back in 2017, though McIver says that she and Wells always had plans to incorporate a food program. Over the years, the co-founders have used the space to host sourdough bread-making and Chinese New Year dumpling workshops, along with a host of other culinary events. With their events business on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic, though, the co-founders decided to use food as a new way to bring people together safely.
“It was always something that was on our radar, but this is definitely the most we’ve done with food so far,” McIver says. “It’s been a challenge, but you have to adapt in order to survive right now.”
The outdoor restaurant is open from Thursday to Sunday, 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. Two-hour reservations are available for parties of four to six through Resy.