Best bars and restaurants in Brooklyn, New York
By Matt Preston
Crossing the Brooklyn Bridge from Manhattan Island no longer entails the spirit of trepidation that it did 10 or 20 years ago. Long since flooded by the hip and happening acolytes of NYC, the borough is home to a wealth of independent boutiques and galleries, and of course a full roll call of distinct eating and drinking opportunities. So fire up your metro card or bridge-crossing shoes, and explore the flavours of New York’s most fashionable borough:
Brooklyn Brewery, #1 Brewers Row, 79 North 11th Street
Many of the locally-produced beers on offer here have made their way onto drinks menus across the globe, so you may be familiar with a couple already. The surrounds are infused with the faint whiff of hops, whetting your appetite for favourites such as their Pennant or Summer Ales. Tours and tastings used to be ragtag affairs, but now healthy crowds start jostling for position around an hour before they start, so it pays to be an early bird. Beer tokens are five for $20 or $5 each, and open up a world of beer sampling in their sparse but lively tasting rooms. Check out BrooklynBrewery.com
The Bedford, corner of Bedford Avenue and North 11th Street
The décor may be reminiscent of every London gastropub in the 1990s, but this joint has a fiercely loyal following and with good reason. Many people come for the oysters, which come with a bloody Mary cocktail sauce, or a slice of Anglophilia in the pilsner-battered fish and chips. The drinks menu has classic cocktails with simple but charming twists, such as the blood orange margarita. Music fans are well catered for, with some of the city’s best DJing talent drawn to play sets most days after 9pm. Visit thebedfordonbedford.com for more details.
Five Leaves, 18 Bedford Avenue
Something of a New York legacy left by the estate of the late actor Heath Ledger, who was so keen to back it that his father carried the whole plan through. There’s always a line given their no-reservation policy, but it’s worth the wait and you get to gaze out over the surrounds of McCarren Park. Breakfast and brunch are a big selling point, and the lunchtime salads – the kale in particular – is spoken about in hushed tones. It’s a casual spot and the décor nods to a nautical theme, with maritime etchings on the tabletops. Go to fiveleavesny.com for more information.
Beertable, 427 7th Avenue
It doesn’t get too much more straight-forward than this. Beertable is a refreshingly unpretentious spot with an enticing, constantly changing menu of imported microbrews and speciality beers. Simple décor, affordable drinks and a laid back crowd – not always an easy combination to come by in the home of the hipster generation. The great news too, is that the place serves up perfect accompanying snacks, whether you have a hankering for a pickled egg or some disgustingly addictive artisanal cheese.
It’s a neighbourhood hotspot for brunching, so if you’re idling over mid-morning on a weekend, I’d advise maybe stepping up your speed a little bit. Head on over to beertable.com
Motorino, 319 Graham Avenue
In a town where pizza is ubiquitous, and it’s hard to even know where to start, you can instantly get a head start on the crowds by heading here. As the rest of the city flounders on their New York crust, Motorino goes old school and pops out Neopolitan-style pies that are pretty much unparalleled. In and among the well-loved classics (though even the Margherita is a thing of beauty), there are notable innovations such as the white brussels sprout and pancetta (trust me). Sure the salads and meat and cheese plates are worth sharing, but delve into a pizza menu that stands out in a city that’s drowning in a sea of pizza mediocrity. Click on motorinopizza.com
The Counting Room, 44 Berry Street
Fancy cocktails come at a price in Manhattan, both in financial and logistical terms – all those speakeasy places with their complicated entry policies. So it’s a pleasure to welcome bars such as TCR, which has a cocktail menu that could pull punches with the city’s big boys, but stylishly shakes them up without the unnecessary snobbery. Upstairs, the bar-restaurant has small plates and pressed sandwiches to engage your palette before you sneak downstairs, where master mixologists lurk in the shadows to make you any manner of tempting liquid treats. Check out countingroom.com
Getting there from the UK
Flights from London to New York are available with Virgin Atlantic from London Heathrow into both JFK and Newark.