No need to fear when you enter the Lion’s Den. You will not get bit by a hungry lioness seeking its next meal but you will be able to sink your teeth into internationally infused-Caribbean dishes at this fairly new, community-oriented, Bedstuy bar and restaurant.
Arriving on the Bedstuy food scene in last September, Trinidadian American Stuart Boucard coupled his experience as a liquor merchandiser and community influencer to open the Lion’s Den.
According to Boucard, “I started in the liquor business as a merchandiser then worked with Sesame Flyers for 15 years and that’s where I applied myself in community service running after school programs and summer camps. This has always been a dream of mine to have my own place and I was fortunate and humble enough to acquire it.”
With this background, Boucard leverages his network to entertain the same people he worked with and forge new business relationships — including one with his old boss.
Located at Classon Avenue between Fulton Street and Lefferts Place, Lion’s Den officially opened its doors in July of 2015 but closed due to some renovations for six weeks, reopening in September.
“I opened for about a month then took down a wall and built a dining room, to open up the space. I have a sidewalk café, the original space where the bar is, and then I have a dining room area also,” he said.
The entry way stays true to form with two lions on either side of the entrance guarding the sidewalk diners and adding to the general feel of the homey restaurant.
Keeping the community in mind, Boucard is event driven — aiming to host some form of weekly and / or daily event to keep the community entertained.
“I’m very much event-driven. I have events literally — live acts, open mic, comedy, Ladies Night, and special happy hours,” he said.
The proud father of six and grandfather of one, leans on the support from his family — specifically his wife and daughter, who is a manger at Lion’s Den — and staff to provide an inviting space for those who visit the establishment.
“I’m very active in the community working through my consultant Sharon Lee. She knows a lot of people through her previous employment within the DA’s office so she’s been my right hand as far as me moving forward,” he explained.
Going through the motions as a new restaurant owner, Boucard sees firsthand the days that there is barely any room to move and the other days where there is but one lonely soul keeping his main bartender Chloe busy.
“I’m just taking it day-by-day,” he said.
The eclectic menu keeps the proud owner excited, bridging international flavors with the cuisine he has grown up with.
His featured dishes include jerk salmon tacos, guava ginger pork sandwich, jerk lobster quesadilla, and a multitude of options for vegetarian eaters including a shandy cauliflower tacos with roasted jalapeno curry crème, and a black eyed pea falafel sandwich.
“I’m not a traditional Caribbean restaurant per se because I’m very much focused on it being Caribbean fusion,” he explained. “We’ve taken some traditional West Indian dishes and fused it with international cuisine.”
Amongst the options for patrons to choose from, Boucard admits their LD’s fiesta wings are certainly top of the list, featuring a variety of sauces including a jerk mohito pineapple sweet SB chili Cognac sauce.
Good food and events are the bread and butter of Lion’s Den — providing a space for the community to be welcomed in as a home away from home, to celebrate, clink glasses, and indulge in good food.
“I’m chasing consistency, a consistent consumer base that comes in on the regular,” he said.
Lion’s Den is open Tuesday through Sundays, including a brunch menu on the weekends and various themed nights such as Ladies’ Night on Thursdays.