Brooklyn has long been the underdog of New York City but in the last few years, a creative class of artists, designers and innovators have begun to emerge from pits of the city’s most densely populated borough. Brooklyn-based artists are making a name for themselves in the international market and just last month, Jenna Lyons, Creative Director for J.Crew made international headlines when she sold her Park Slope townhouse for $4 million (almost 4 times what she paid for it in 2004). Boutiques across the globe are looking to Brooklyn for small start-up clothing, perfume, jewellery and accessory lines that have somehow established a reputation for being “cool” and therefore incredibly desirable – popular jewellery designer Pamela Love’s first studio was here. Tourists too, have caught on to the trend and are slowly venturing across the border to explore areas like Fort Greene, DUMBO, Cobble Hill and Williamsburg to find the authentic “New York” within New York.
Where to explore:
Home to “Restaurant Row” and some of the best up-and-coming designers, this historical district has a mixture of charming streets and heritage architecture.
Eva Gentry – A gallery-like boutique with white walls and elegantly displayed clothing and accessories, this designer consignment shop carries alternative brands like Common Projects, Maison Martin Margiela and Gryson. 389 Atlantic Ave., Cobble Hill, 718-260-9033, www.evagentry.com
Dear Fieldbinder – Trend-setter, Lara Fieldbinder’s boutique carries an eclectic mix of established designers (MinkPink, Jeffrey Campbell) and daring up-and-comers (Dagmar, Rodebjer). 198 Smith St., Cobble Hill, 718-852-3620, dearfieldbinder.com
Alma Restaurant – Sometimes the best way to take in New York City is from a distance. This restaurant’s rooftop dining deck is heated in the winter and open air in the summer and is famous for unrivaled panoramic views of Manhattan. The menu offers a mix of Mexican, Asian and American Continental headed by Chef Hans Dannerhoj. 187 Columbia St., Cobble Hill, 718-643-5400, almarestaurant.com
Floyd, NY– The latest after-work hang, Floyd’s bar is one of the only places in New York where you can eat Kentucky beercheese, sip bourbon, and play bocce on an indoor clay court. 131 Atlantic Ave, Cobble Hill, 718-858-5810, floydny.com
The Jakewalk – With a name based on the oddball stiff walk common with bootleggers who drank contaminated Jamaica Ginger during Prohibition, this watering hole boasts an excellent wine list and cocktail menu. 282 Smith St, Carroll Gardens/Cobble Hill, 347-599-0294, www.thejakewalk.com
NU Hotel – The Brooklyn hotel since opening in 2008, this clean, modern hotel has quirky features like hammocks and “cookie time” in the afternoon. 85 Smith St., Brooklyn Heights, 718-852-8585, www.nuhotelbrooklyn.com
Probably the most familiar of the neighbourhoods known for its indie rock venues, flourishing local art community and hipster population, Williamsburg has undergone mass gentrification in the last few years with new condo developments and a rise in housing costs. The closest to Manhattan in both proximity and lifestyle, notable residents include British trendsters Alexa Chung and Peaches Geldof as well as a slew of artists from Gene Simmons to Barbra Streisand.
CB I Hate Perfume – Since 1992, Christopher Brosius has been creating custom scents that are impossible to mass-produce and come in simple glass vials. 93 Wythe Ave, Williamsburg, 718-384-6890, www.cbihateperfume.com
Mast Brothers – A grass roots chocolatier, brothers Rick and Michael use traditional methods to manufacture their bars from raw cocoa primarily sourced from La Red de Guaconejo, a small organic cacao co-operative in the Dominican Republic, that is then hand-wrapped in a thick butcher’s paper printed in-house on a printing press. 111 N 3rd St,Williamsburg, 718-388-2625, mastbrothers.com
Egg – This tiny bare-bones restaurant serves breakfast, lunch and of course, brunch. The tiny menu uses seasonal produce from their own farm located just 2.5 hours north of Brooklyn. Expect line-ups out the door on weekends. 135 North 5th St., Williamsburg, 718-302-5151, www.pigandegg.com
Brooklyn Surf Bar – It’s hard to miss this kitch-filled Hawaiian surf bar with a surf board sign, grass skirt awning, long boards lining the ceiling and Barbies in surf gear resting on top of beer taps. 139 N 6th St, Williamsburg, 718-302-4441, www.brooklynsurfbar.com
Other places to check out:
Bird, 3 locations throughout Brooklyn shopbird.com
Stuart & Wright, 85 Lafayette Ave, Fort Greene, www.stuartandwright.com
In God We Trust, 2 Brooklyn locations, www.ingodwetrustnyc.com
Brooklyn Flea, Fort Greene, www.brooklynflea.com
Frankie’s Spuntino, 457 Court St, Carroll Gardens, frankiesspuntino.com
The Good Fork, 391 Van Brunt St., Carroll Gardens www.goodfork.com
Mile End, 97A Hoyt St., Boerum Hill, www.mileendbrooklyn.com
For more ideas on what to see and do in Brooklyn, visit www.visitbrooklyn.org