This is where major trends are launched, including the obsession for small batch, artisanal or DIY products. Several celebrities – including Bjork and Matthew Barney – have now moved to the other side of the Hudson, where upscale restaurants and hotels lure tourists from around the world. So don’t be intimidated by the megabeards and lumberjack shirts and start planning your expedition now.
North and East Brooklyn
Eat: If you cab or bike across the Williamsburg bridge, you’ll land on a quiet strip of southern Williamsburg, right on the water. There, two of the first farm-to-table restaurants to open in the area, Diner and Marlow and Sons, serve homemade scones and pastries, heritage everything and a simple, all-American menu with a laid-back attitude. Head north to the hip enclave of Greenpoint, a former Polish neighborhood now overtaken by skinny creatives in vintage and designer clothes. Five Leaves, a tiny bistro facing McCarren Park, serves some of the best burgers in the area — Australian style, with eggs, beets and pineapple. Prepare to stand in line and wear your best Alexander Wang shoes. If you’re in the mood for pizza in a punk atmosphere, take a cab across to Roberta’s in Bushwick, where the homemade dough and home-grown veggies are cooked in a gigantic wood burning oven.
Shop: The loveliest little boutique in the area is Catbird, where, amongst the antique chandeliers and mirrors and scents of delicate candles, a selection of charming jewels, perfumes and gift items are displayed artfully. Perfect for picking up a few gifts – including cool engagement rings that anti-Tiffany’s girls will love. For conceptual fashion, check out Bird, a light-drenched boutique selling Margiela, Pamela Love, Comme des Garçons and more. Design diehards love Future Perfect, which sells objects from cutting edge designers, several of whom are Brooklyn-based.
Discover: At the beautiful atelier of the Mast Brothers chocolaterie, visitors learn about the art of making chocolate – from raw cacao beans to the delicious dark bars wrapped in beautifully printed paper. If you’d rather learn about beer, visit the massive headquarters of the Brooklyn Brewery, where some of the country’s best pale ales, lagers and dark beers are made. Tucked on a deserted section of Wythe avenue, CB I hate perfume sells rare fragrances inspired by perfumer Christopher Brosius’s conceptual inspirations, such as Air, Burning Leaves and Walking in the Air. And one of the area’s best-kept secrets is Bellocq, a luxury tea maker who sells fine blends such as Kikuya, a rose-flavored green tea, The White Duke, a bergamot-white tea mix, and Bellocq Breakfast in an industrial Greenpoint studio.
Drink: Brooklynites love to party and have mastered the skill of imbibing – complete with fine silver tools and heirloom julep cups. There may be a line at Hotel Delmano, but the bar’s sensual atmosphere, freshly crafted cocktails, seafood platters and high chance of celebrity spotting make it well worth it. The area’s hipsters know that they need to be at Maison Premiere right before 5pm to catch the New Orleans-inspired parlor’s happy hour special on oysters. The absinthe cocktails are a must. A pianist plays oldies every night at Manhattan Inn, a dark Greenpoint cash-only bar with excellent cocktails. The newly opened Dear Bushwick serves British-inspired drinks and pub fare in a warm, antique-filled space. The back garden sometimes hosts live banjo players and barbecues. Welcome to Brooklyn.