Sorry, But Your City’s ‘Food Scene’ Might Not Actually Be All That Special

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Image: State & Lemp, Boise

 

A by now unavoidable pattern seems to have developed over these least few years, where the “draw” of just about every American city is being pitched as its “super hot food scene.” The same buzz phrases are employed by each: “innovative young chefs” are making “locally sourced cuisine” that draws on “regional traditions” but with “a new twist.” (In some cases this means nothing more than a fussed-over grilled cheese sandwich topped with a few “local” nettle leafs.)

This all comes amidst much misguided blather about how “food is the new rock & roll” and “chefs are the new artists.” Yet let’s be clear: April Bloomfield‘s inarguably amazing restaurants will always send you home very well fed  – but her pan seared skate with saffron aioli is definitely not Björk’s Biophilia. As for food being held up as art, Jason Farago’s 2014 BBC story slaps that one down with relative ease. (“When a chef like [Ferran] Adrià is acclaimed as an artist, or when organic obsessives wax rhapsodic about the cultural virtues of turnips, it says we expect less from art than we used to.” Uh huh.)

 

Pontiac Bourbon & BBQ, Cincinnati

 

The more mundane truth is that American urban centers are gentrifying at a lightning pace (South Park even did a brilliantly incisive episode about it); and where there is gentrification, there are always new restaurants hoping to attract the gentrifiers’ cash. It is, in a sense, the logical conclusion of the “Brooklynization” (or “Portlandization”) of, well…everywhere.

Now, for our part, BlackBook does not at all abide uppity NYC-LA centrism; and we have enthusiastically promoted the many virtues of destinations like Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Cleveland, Oakland, Ottawa…we could go on.

So, is it simply much too easy to engender a food scene? For evidence, we present here a loosely chosen, yet somewhat eye-opening list of the cities whose epicurean allure has been showered with rapturous column inches of praise from the “elite” press. And don’t worry – should that be enough to get you to book the next flight to Boise, St. Louis, Des Moines…we’re pretty sure a new “lifestyle” hotel has just opened in each.

 

Boise

Just last year Vogue (yes, Vogue) insisted that Boise (yes, Boise) is “having a culinary renaissance, with creative young chefs, artisans, brewers and even winemakers.” If we’re being honest, we’ve never actually seen a bottle of wine from Idaho; but it’s apparently really a thing.
The “Must” Restaurants: Mai Thai, State & Lemp

 

Pittsburgh

In 2015, Zagat ranked Steel City as the absolute No. 1 foodie destination in America. And who are we to argue with Zagat? (Hipster bonus: Pittsburgh now has its own Ace Hotel.)
The “Must” Restaurants: Butcher & Rye, Union Standard

 

Butcher & Rye 

St. Louis

Back in 2014, Time Out noted that “the Gateway City’s food scene has quietly established a reputation as a home to a wide variety of sophisticated, locally soured fare [and] craft beer.” Perhaps more importantly, one of the city’s signature eats is something called “gooey butter cake.” We’re anxious to investigate.
The “Must” Restaurants: Nixta, Olive + Oak

 

Olive + Oak

 

Des Moines

The Atlantic urged readers in 2014 to “do the most hipster thing possible”…move to Des Moines. By 2016, Politico had decisively confirmed the city’s cool cred – and the New York Times was going on enthusiastically about the culinary treats that awaited that year’s GOP Caucus goers.
The “Must” Restaurants: Alba, Saison Kitchen + Pub

 

Saison Kitchen + Pub

Milwaukee

It’s not your father’s beer and cheese lifestyle anymore, is it? In December 2016, Eater focused on 11 of the city’s restaurants that were “garnering some serious buzz” in a piece on “the hottest openings of the last 12 months” in Mil-Town. N.B. Milwaukee in December is actually pretty bloody cold – so perhaps wait until April to investigate. You’ll also want to book into the Harley themed Iron Horse Hotel.
The “Must” Restaurants: Red Light Ramen, DanDan

 

DanDan

 

Cincinnati

The Chicago Tribune in 2016 pointed to (what else?) an urban renewal program that has turned the Over-the-Rhine neighborhood from something of an insalubrious blight into “a hub of the city’s culinary scene.” (Isn’t it always the way?) For our part, we must admit to being impressed by how much “really you must” Cincinnati buzz we’ve heard gushing from the lips of the cognoscenti.
The “Must” Restaurants: Pontiac Bourbon & BBQ, Quan Hapa

 

Quan Hapa

 

Charlottesville, Bloomington, Greenville, Grand Rapids…

The Tasting Table 2017 list of America’s 27 most underrated food cities included all of the above. Yes, there are actually twenty-seven cities in the US that seemingly have yet to be given their proper due in honoring their culinary magnificence and hotness.
There’s banana pudding doughnuts in Birmingham, tagarashi-spiced catfish in Louisville, Mongolian-beef-stuffed chun bing in New Haven, oyster mushroom banh mi in Omaha and (we kid you not) rabbit served with rye pasta purses, cherry marmalade and soda spiked ricotta in Portsmouth – all of which have apparently been criminally under-reported and shamefully under-lauded.
For the record, though, we did check – and from what we can tell, Waco, Texas doesn’t have much of a food scene. Yet.

 

Terra Square Farmers Market, Grand Rapids 

 

 

Scandinavian Fire + Ice: ‘A Taste of Iceland’ Returns to NYC this September

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Icelandic culture festival Taste of Iceland will be returning to NYC in late September…and they’re bringing the dung-smoked lamb fat.

Despite near constant growth in tourism from year to year – with so many millennial-approved Instagram locations, we can’t see that changing any time soon – tiny Iceland still retains an air of mystery. The crowds at the Blue Lagoon may rival those at Brooklyn Flea, but the Nordic island country is still far from being overrun – elves still outnumber people in many areas. And despite repeated visits, we never quite feel at home there…which is a good thing. The place never gets old.

 

Restaurant Norman, Brooklyn

 

Part of the allure, certainly, are Icelanders particular tastes and personalities, which can vary from mildly quirky to head-scratchingly bizarre; cue mention of kæstur hákarl, the fermented shark meat that’s considered a delicacy. So it barely needs to be stated that we’re again excited for this year’s Taste of Iceland (September 27 – 30, hosted by Iceland Naturally) –  four days of idiosyncratic fun, including special drinking, dining, music and cultural events.

Here are the big highlights.

Taste of Iceland pop-up menu at NormanGreenpoint’s signature Nordic themed restaurant presents a four-course prix fixe menu featuring, among other classics, lamb with the aforementioned dung-smoked lamb fat.
Learn how to make drinks like a true Nordic via a cocktail class with one of Iceland’s premiere mixologists at Brooklyn’s Meadowsweet.
As evidenced by the ongoing success of Iceland Airwaves – the music festival that can boast as being the closest to the Arctic Circle – Icelanders love to gather for a communal sonic experience. If you can’t actually make it to Iceland, join them instead at the Knitting Factory on Saturday the 29th , when both Vök and Berndsen take the stage.
Scandinavians love beautiful things; and there will be a design talk hosted by Halla Helgadóttir, Managing Director of the Iceland Design Centre. Also not to be missed is the short film festival at Greenpoint’s Film Noir Cinema.

 

Vök

 

 

Honey Galore, No Stings Attached: Catskills Bee Fest Beckons

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This much is true: honey is good for you. It’s rich in antioxidants (especially buckwheat honey), it’s beneficial to the skin, and it can lower triglycerides which is healthy for the heart. Oh, and it tastes great slathered on toast or in a pot of thick Greek yoghurt. But as everyone knows, bees are in trouble, and need our help.

A rise in the popularity of beekeeping has been welcome news for our most beloved pollinator, but keeping hives in the city has drawbacks: a study of honey harvested from urban bees in Vancouver showed trace elements of heavy metals, including cadmium, copper, lead, arsenic and zinc. Meanwhile, in a recent story in The New York Times, a Cornell University professor, Scott McArt, specializing in pollination, told of a study of Manhattan bees communicating to their fellow pollinators that the best pollen could be found not in the flower troughs and parks of New York, but across the Hudson River in New Jersey’s meadows.

We recommend that humans follow the instincts of the bees and cross the river, and then keep going through New Jersey, and all the way up the Delaware Valley to Narrowsburg, the beekeeping capital of New York – which hosts its 4th annual Honey Bee Fest on Saturday, September 22. With the region’s abundant forest canopy, apple orchards, and rich tradition in organic farming, plus the diverse riverside flora, there’s little risk of accidentally covering your English muffins with pesticides or heavy metals when you indulge in the local honey.

The one-day festival take place in the heart of this beautiful river town that has emerged as a favorite destination for New Yorkers, thanks to its location on the Delaware River, several excellent restaurants, boutique homeware stores, and specialist shops including Narrowsburg Proper, a food emporium that sources regional and international gourmet products. It’s also owned by Joan Santo, the creator of Honey Bee Fest.

With a new luxury bus service to Narrowsburg, operated by Catskill Carriage (departing NYC at 4pm on Fridays; tickets $55 each way if booked five days ahead), and plenty of Air BnB options, why not make a weekend of it? In addition to a street fair on Main Street featuring honey vendors, mead tastings, beekeeping classes and cooking demos, there will a special performance by the Wallenpaupack Marching Band, dressed as bees.

With honey bees in decline, expect to hear a vibrant rendition of the Bee Gees “Stayin’ Alive,” among other numbers. And then book dinner and brunch at The Laundrette and The Heron, two Narrowsburg mainstays that could easily hold their own with the best of New York City. Honey is guaranteed to be on the menu.

BlackBook Interview: Interior Designer Greg Natale on His New Book ‘The Patterned Interior’

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The venerable design icon Jonathan Adler said of Greg Natale, “His rooms are designed with such sureness that they look as if they were always meant to be.”

This is high praise, to be sure – but one look at the Australian interior designer’s new book The Patterned Interior (Rizzoli), and you get an idea of exactly what he means. Despite Natale’s signature ability to, as the title suggests, bring together patterns in an inimitable, thought-provoking way, the rooms featured on the book’s pages (from Sydney to Oklahoma to New York City) convey an insouciant naturalness – a sense that nothing is meant as a “show off” statement…despite the compelling final effect.

As the book was about to hit the shelves this week, we caught up with him to chat about inspiration, not following trends and the role of nature in contemporary interior design.

 

 

What were some of your earliest influences, and how have they changed over the years? 

My sister studied fashion and some of my earliest memories are of her putting colored pencils in my hand and making me draw. It really unlocked my imagination and got the creative juices flowing.
As well, I grew up in a family home in Sydney that was built by Italian migrant parents, and was awash with pattern. In the book I talk about how this immersion, from the tiles in every room to the upholstery and so on, instilled in me a real love of pattern and the place for decoration in our living environments. I think there’s always a clue to where we came from in our work, whether it’s deliberate or subconscious.

Do you feel as if we’ve moved beyond overarching trends in interior design, to focus more on an individual sense of style?

I’m always a little wary about trend-talk. I avoid what I call “cookie cutter” design, but I do also believe in the zeitgeist and the commonalities that can come through in the work people produce. I would definitely say that I enjoy seeing what’s going on around me, but there is so much inspiration in looking at what’s been, and I love pushing new boundaries by referencing the past, looking at other creative spaces like fashion, art and seeing how that can all be brought together to put a new twist on something.

Was there a particular impetus for doing The Patterned Interior?

I often joke that there is a pattern molecule hidden away somewhere in my DNA makeup. I love it and I wouldn’t be able to create a space without it. The new book is an exploration of how pattern doesn’t have to be one note, it’s about how it contributes to a space, visually and on an experiential level. It also addresses the breadth and versatility of pattern, by showcasing twelve vastly different homes that we have designed, from Australia to the US.

 

 

What are you trying to convey with the title?

My first book, The Tailored Interior, was a bit of a manifesto. I wanted to demystify the interior design process for those who wanted to understand how and why things worked – not just to look at the book and see beautiful spaces. When it came time to start this book with Rizzoli, I felt like pattern was something that I had touched on but really felt that it offered so much more to explore. For The Patterned Interior we really pick up on the pattern story, but we do it in a different way this time around. It’s a monograph that explores twelve of my projects and draws out the place and function of pattern. The title for me was a neat way to pick up where we left off, but it gives clue to the new focus.

You talk in the book about nature as a muse. Do you think environmental worries are inspiring us to reconnect with nature in design?

In Australia, I think to a certain extent we are always aware of how nature impacts on our lifestyle. We are lucky enough to live in a very beautiful part of the world and the outdoors plays a huge part in how we design our homes and how we interact with them. Our climate means that a lot of the time we design for seamless indoor/outdoor living. The chapter in my book that explores nature as muse is the one that takes us to an incredible private villa on The Great Barrier Reef – to a magical, tropical place called Hamilton Island. I think that here more than any other place you are aware of your environment; the raw beauty of the place was something that couldn’t be ignored in this design.

Do you particularly enjoy updating historic styles, as you did with Victoriana in Geelong, Australia?

The process of restoration is an important one. As well as interior design, I also studied architecture, so I have a great appreciation for a home as a whole. The idea of context, site and designing sympathetically to the era of that place but investing a place with a new character or giving it a new lease on life is thrilling.

 

 

What were some of your most challenging assignments?

Some of our most challenging works have been delivering some pretty huge projects in very-very tight time frames. While it’s not my preference, it is always remarkable to look back and see what can be achieved when the pressure is on and the constraints are really imposed. Beyond that, I think designing for yourself will always be challenging. In the past three years I’ve redesigned my own home as well as built and fitted out my company’s headquarters in Sydney. To the annoyance of my partner and my staff the places are never done – I can’t help but keep tweaking and adding to them.

How would you ultimately describe your style?

I consider my style to be layered, and I strive to create tailored, tightly edited spaces that meet at the intersection of design and decoration.

What do you hope people will take away from The Patterned Interior?

I talk in the book about how powerful pattern can be in eliciting a reaction in people – it can actually be very polarizing. It has the capacity to really draw a range of emotions, and in this book, by demonstrating the diversity of uses and the range of styles, I hope to start a conversation about its place in not only performing a decorative function, but also the impact it has on how we feel and how we relate to our interiors.

 

 

© The Patterned Interior by Greg Natale, Rizzoli New York, 2018.  All images © Anson Smart.

Catalonia Cool: The New Barcelona EDITION Hotel Opens

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As capital of a Catalonia region that has been perpetually agitating for independence from Spain, Barcelona is a city in flux. It’s also one of the most visited destinations in Europe, to the point of having to recently legislate the overwhelming flow of international tourists.

The latter situation will certainly not be helped by the opening of the glamorous new Barcelona EDITION hotel, the latest in the portfolio of the Ian Schrager helmed luxury brand. Located in the El Born district, and so smack in the middle of everywhere and everything in town, it has a striking glass facade, and warm, modern interiors by Carlos Ferrater Studio.

Like most EDITION hotels it’s a relatively intimate affair, with just 100 rooms, featuring parquet flooring, moody lighting and a decidedly subdued but elegant sense of chic. But as ever, it’s very much a social place, with a buzzing lobby bar; the vanguard Bar Veraz, overseen by Adrià Projects alum Sebastián Mazzola; and a dramatically mezzanine located outpost of the New York EDITION’s Punch Room, with its bleeding-edge cocktail program – including, of course, those signature punch bowls.

And with climate change driving the Mediterranean temps up to 110 degrees fahrenheit this summer, expect The Roof, the EDITION’s panoramic roof/pool (literally) hotspot to be bustling well into November.

 

Epicurean AC: Savor Borgata Weekend Returns This November

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Just where can you stroll the Boardwalk in the morning, and chat up Bobby Flay, Wolfgang Puck, Michael Symon and Geoffrey Zakarian in the afternoon? The surprise answer is: Atlantic City.

While a weekend filled with baccarat and poker chips may not be to everyone’s taste, this November 9-10, a quick 90-minute trip from Manhattan will land you at the Savor Borgata weekend, offering the opportunity for meets-and-greets with the hotshot restaurateurs who boast outposts in the plush AC resort – part of its ongoing 15th birthday celebration.

Of course, each day those signature restaurants give Atlantic City a particular culinary edge: Izakaya by Michael Schulson is a nod to traditional Japanese meat and sushi in a modern setting; Symon’s new Angeline, named for his mother, features updates of classic red sauce pastas and wood fired meat; Wolfgang Puck American Grille forwards a signature mix of French and seasonal American cuisine that is always fresh and contemporary; and Bobby Flay Steak is just what is says, red meat nirvana from the pioneering chef.

 

Angeline

 

But Savor Borgata takes it all to another level.

As VP of Food & Beverage Becky Schultz explains, “it’s an opportunity to wine, dine, mix and mingle with our A-List culinary roster in both intimate and expansive settings throughout the weekend.”

What to expect?

 

-Wine pairing with…music? A master sommelier talks Bon Jovi and vino.
-Food facials and spa treatments at the immersion pool.
-Fall favorite ginger bread cookies with the Borgata’s pastry chef.
-A Moet & Chandon champagne tasting event with Geoffrey Zakarian.
-A Japanese whiskey and BBQ dinner with Schulson, featuring Suntory Whiskey, which has veritably changed the way we think about the exalted brown spirit.

 

 

-Live cooking demonstrations with Chef Puck – his infectious charm and talent always make everything taste better.
-A fiesta for bourbon and bacon-lovers in all its sweet, savory and drinkable forms with Executive Chef Tom Biglan.
-3-course lunch with Iron Chef Flay, paired with Paul Hobbs wines.
– A pasta making class with Symon, who will give hands on and interactive demonstrations.

 

The best part? After such extravagant indulgences, you get to head straight upstairs to one of the Borgata’s luxurious, ocean views rooms to sleep it off – before a pampering morning at its plush Spa Toccare.

 

Maggie Gyllenhaal Joins the Autograph Collection’s ‘Screenwriters in Residence’ Program

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Despite memorable roles in blockbusters like The Dark Knight and White House Down, Maggie Gyllenhaal will always represent a particular sort of indie spirit, one that ever cultivates story over visual bombast and special effects.

So it makes perfect sense that she has just been appointed Independent Film Advisor to The Autograph Collection’s Indie Film Project. With a goal towards supporting not just independent talent, but specifically aspiring women, Gyllenhaal was inspired by Virginia Woolf’s 1929 feminist essay A Room of One’s Own, in shaping this year’s Screenwriters in Residence program.

It was all kicked off with a splashy bash at the Toronto International Film Festival, where Maggie pal Martha Wainwright took to the stage for an electrifying performance.

 

Martha Wainwright image by BFA

 

“I think the words of Virginia Woolf – written almost 90 years ago – still ring true,” observes Gyllenhaal. “We are at a moment, culturally, when people are hungry for stories that are emotionally true, rooted in diversity; and reflective of different voices. I am proud to support emerging female screenwriters in independent film, which has always been a place you can tell stories in an honest and authentic way.”

Those voices, as thoughtfully selected by the actress, include Sarah Jane Inwards, specifically citing her script for Jellyfish Summer; young documentarian Chiara Towne, whose most recent screenplay V.I.N. was featured on the 2017 Black List; and budding screenwriter Amanda Idoko, who is currently working on Central Park, an Apple-produced animated musical.

The Autograph Collection is a group of unique luxury hotels located across the continents, from Tokyo to Dubai, Berlin to Miami and beyond.

 

Hotel am Steinplatz Berlin

Napa Wine Icon Dave Phinney Returns w/ ‘8 Years in the Desert’

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Napa Valley is known for big, bold wines with big, bold names to back them up. But certainly none has been so bold before as to take the form of artwork on a skateboard deck.

As the founder of Orin Swift Cellars, Dave Phinney was known for thoughtfully produced, mixed and bottled wines like Machete, a juicy Petite Sirah that cuts you off at the knees, and Mannequin, a full-bodied Chardonnay whose label was inspired by a Nicki Minaj song. They were daring, and totally original.

Phinney departed from the wine business in 2010; but after eight years he’s back with the aptly named 8 Years in The Desert – a nod to the non-compete clause tucked into his buy-out from the The Prisoner. His underdog-to-top-dog Napa wine that eventually sold for $285 million was known for the label – a series of dark lines depicting a man, bent at the knees and chained at both sides, etched by Francisco de Goya – as much as its bold terroir. It’s been a top seller for years.

 

Above: 8 Years in the Desert Custom Skateboard Decks

 

Now, his 8 Years in the Desert is a collection of eight wines spanning from, as he explains it, a “blend of Zinfandel, Petite Sirah, Syrah and small percentages of other red varietals.” But the labels again figure significantly, featuring a stark, barren landscape with dry hills and a lone cactus – yet multi-layered with exposed photo negatives; the exposures range from blues and greens to pinks and whites, and appear bleached from the sun. They represent a progression in flavor and image from fully to partially exposed, and mimic the robust to lighter flavor profiles in each bottle.

Indeed, the wines create a complete story, and as Phinney puts it, “nothing has been spared on this project. The tank is empty; everything was left on the field. This is literally blood, sweat and tears.”

It should be noted that during his brief sojourn, Phinney stayed close to his Napa Valley roots with another passion project, one that saw him delve for the first time into the world of spirits. Savage & Cooke, a distillery and tasting room on Mare Island, produced a signature bourbon called Burning Chair, to rave reviews.

Still, he insists, “I look at everything through a winemakers eyes – making it all totally personal. Wine is at the heart of everything I do.”

 

A Brooklyn Staycation: Revisiting the Trendsetting Wythe Hotel

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The view from The Ides – image by Rebecca McEvoy (on Instagram)

 

If you remember making the scene at Williamsburg’s Club Luxx (where Larry Tee birthed the electroclash movement) in the early years of the new Millennium, it is a bit startling how much Brookyn’s inaugural “hipster” hood has changed since that time.

One of the genuine turning points was when, in early 2012, the area got its first boutique sleep. Indeed, when the Wythe Hotel opened on a then fairly desolate stretch of its namesake avenue, there was really no turning back: tourists and business people would now be bedding down in WBurg. Yet while a few other hotels have opened in the area during the time since, the Wythe is surely the only one that truly seems like it actually represents the aesthetics and ideology of its locale; it “feels” very…Brooklyn.

 

Photo by Matthew Williams

 

Just walk into the lobby, and you get the vibe straight away: light wood flooring, exposed brick, dangling Edison bulbs, and floor-to-ceiling “factory” windows give it a homey, rustic-industrial feel. Pop up to your room, and you’ll find concrete floors, local illustrator Dan Funderburgh’s regal-chic wallpaper (we’re partial to the Francophilic Toile style), beamed ceilings and evidence on the walls of the Wythe’s mission – as Laura Itzkowitz stated it in Brooklyn Magazine – as an “incubator for artists.”

And though glancing from your window onto the Brooklyn street scene gives a real sense of local immersion, we still highly recommend a room with the awe-inspiring view across the East River to the epic Manhattan skyline. People often say it, but this will genuinely take your breath away.

With all the new neighborhood developments, we decided it was a good time to revisit the Wythe – so we checked in recently, and had an entertaining time traversing the street which it calls home. Here’s what we did.

 

Artists & Fleas

A weekend only activity, this is the NYC flea market for creative souls, offering up an artfully cultivated selection of vintage fashion, accessories, art and design, records, even herbal remedies. A particular highlight is an outpost of The Strand bookshop, which can occupy bibliophiles for an entire afternoon.

Kinfolk

Men’s streetwear brand takes the “lifestyle” concept and runs with it. Shop for of-the-moment tees, sneakers, accessories – Adidas Originals x C.P. Company is well-stocked. But it’s also an industrial style coffee bar by day, serving cocktails by night. A good place to start your evening, and maybe even pick up what you need to dress up for it.

 

 

North 3rd Street Market

The latest addition to the seemingly unstoppable food market trend, North 3rd sets itself apart by ditching the trendoid factor, in favor of more indelible New York vendors – albeit in a cooly stylish space. From Dana’s Bakery to Lobster Joint, Di Fara Pizza to Chuko’s delectable ramen, you could come here for three meals a day, and never get bored.

Reynard

The Wythe’s ground floor restaurant is actually sceney by day, with a busy breakfast and bodies filling seats for lunchtime even before noon. The vibe is antiquey, with vintage looking woods, pendant lamps, and smartly patterned flooring; it’s all matched by a hearty menu, eschewing twee dining trends for substantial roast pork sandwiches and grass-fed burgers. To catch it at maximum energy level, pop in for a weekend brunch of sourdough pancakes and herbed egg crepes. Great soundtrack, too.

 

Photo by Matthew Williams

Halcyon

You may feel a little out of place at first amongst the fervent danceheads packing the small space around the front desk, digging for obscure house and techno vinyl – perhaps records they’ve recently heard spun at the adjacent mega-club Output. But it’s an enlightening and actually friendly experience. There’s a small bar attached, and if you’re not exactly a late-night clubber, pop up early evening for the rooftop scene, forwarding the same technophilic musical ideals.

Rough Trade

Still a genuine phenomenon – the legendary Brit label/shop set up N. 9th Street in 2013 and has been crawling with cool kids ever since. Rare dancehall records? Limited edition Björk vinyl? Indie photo exhibits? This is the place. It’s also NYC’s bleeding-coolest music venue, carefully curating a zeigeisty lineup that has included the likes of The Horrors, SZA, Lydia Lunch and the occasional superstar like Green Day.

 

 

La Esquina

Once the molten core of cool in NoLIta, its journey across the river finds it a little less concerned with fashionista cred, but no less fun. Located in a classic repurposed diner building, the interior plays to the theme, but, of course, it’s tacos instead of tuna melts – our recommends being the pollo rostizado and the lamb barbacoa. Or just go for the killer margaritas at the bar. The crowd is decidedly still hip, but in a kind of more Brooklyny low-key way.

The Ides

The Wythe’s rooftop is easily the best in Brooklyn – especially for the insanely Instagrammable East River and Manhattan views. But it also doesn’t resign the imbibables to an afterthought, whipping up some serious cocktails to compliment those views. Interestingly, the best names are also some of the best drinks – and we highly recommend the Soul Vibrations (apple brandy, orange bitters, tonic), the Synthetic Substitution (bourbon, fino sherry, lemon), and the Dizzy World, a gin & tonic float with housemade sorbet. Heaven up here…

 

Photo by Matthew Williams