Outdoor Dining at Rule of Thirds in Greenpoint, Brooklyn

There’s something called the rule of thirds in photography that serves as a guide for taking a visually interesting and balanced picture. It’s also the name of a Japanese restaurant in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, and while I’m not quite clear on why it was named Rule of Thirds, it is very clear to me that this is a visually beautiful restaurant where things like presentation and balance are carefully adhered to.

Rule of Thirds is housed in a co-working space backed by the BMW brand Mini, so that explains why you initially feel like you’re stepping into a huge warehouse. But this is no car dealership that you’re walking into, this is The Wing of outdoor dining. It’s elegant and pristine, in which lovely tables outfitted with cute bottles of sanitizer and pretty chopsticks are placed in a courtyard with green plants against a backdrop of exposed white brick. No wonder that so many people brunching on the weekend were fashionable young women. And I was also grateful that a pretty restaurant like this with a good atmosphere was also very kid friendly. High chairs are plentiful and are delivered with smiles.

As you might imagine, the food is more modern Japanese with hints of Western influences, rather than traditional Japanese. The lovely housemade silken tofu, for instance, was served with summer tomatoes drizzled with a balsamic sauce with a tinge of mint, reminiscent of a burrata dish. The fried chicken karaage was served with a mayo that brought to mind a picnic potato salad. The tuna and nori read the most traditional in our selection of starters, and while it was solid, its subtlety left me wanting more.

Rule of Thirds recruited a chef from Okonomi, a restaurant in Williamsburg that makes a fantastic Japanese breakfast I love, so naturally I was thrilled to see this offered on the menu. It made me happy seeing the requisite components of a Japanese breakfast arrive at the table–warm miso soup, rice with some furikake, roasted blue fish and pickled vegetables. Another intersection of dishes that came together well.

But even tastier than the Japanese breakfast set was, surprisingly, the chicken meatball set. Balance is such a theme here, and meatballs are a classic example of a culinary balancing act. Too much filler bread crumbs or seasoning can easily throw things off. The chicken meatball at Rule of Thirds was just right. If you want something with more umami, the kakuni set comes with a braised pork belly and daikon that speaks to your more wintry cravings.

You can’t leave Rule of Thirds without an order of their hottokeki Japanese souffle pancakes. The sight of these large, quivering pancakes is certainly an exciting one. It’s definitely more souffle than cakey pancake. The insides are as light as air, and extremely fluffy. It’s nice to end a meal like this, being on cloud 9 and eating it, too.

Rule of Thirds
171 Banker St (between Norman Ave and Messerole Ave)
Brooklyn, NY 11222
Make reservations here.