A far-flung slice of Brooklyn finds its groove. By Nicole Anderson
Tucked away in the hindermost corner of Brooklyn, Red Hook feels akin to a far-flung seaside village with its derelict cobblestone streets, industrial warehouses, and sweeping water views. While gentrification has quickly spread like an epidemic to adjacent neighborhood, Carroll Gardens, Red Hook has retained its small-town vibe and emerged as an artist enclave and home to a slew of new stylish boutiques, bars, and restaurants.
Over the years, Red Hook dwellers have used their isolated surroundings to their advantage—giving birth to an interesting cross-pollination of ideas and collaborations between stores and local artists and endowing the neighborhood with a rare and seemingly contradictory homespun sort of sophistication. Although further development hovers nearby, Red Hook preserves its rustic allure—a place that's undergoing a cultural renaissance, but still feels as if it has yet to be discovered.
This Columbia Street storefront-turned art and design cooperative, Brooklyn Collective, was founded in 2004 by jewelry designer, Rachel Goldberg, and clothing designer, Tessa Philips. Together they offer up a communal space where a diverse roster of up-and-coming artists can exhibit their work without the imposed limitations of the traditional marketplace. Sharing in the zeitgeist of this shop-cum-gallery, the members of the collective split the rent and keep all the proceeds. Showcasing a range of work from clothing and jewelry design to artwork and hand-made perfumes, the extensive list of members have included Becky Yazdan, Niccole Ugay, Species By The Thousands, Jennifer Serchia, May Luk and Studio 1 a.m.
With a discerning eye and knack for uncovering the unusual in antique finds, Russell Whitmore opened Erie Basin in November of 2006. Beautifully curated with a vast collection of both contemporary and vintage 19th and 20th century jewelry, antique art objects, furniture, and obscure odds and ends, this outpost will remind you of stumbling upon a dust-covered attic filled with unexpected, almost-forgotten objects. However, amid the Victorian-era brooches and anchor candle holders, don't miss the work of contemporary jewelry designers such as Brian Crumley, Conroy & Wilcox, and Paul DeBlassie IV.
Derived from the Finnish word for soap, this whimsical, flower-adorned shop specializes in hand-made olive oil-based soap, floral design, and custom arrangements. Though this family-owned business is located in the Hudson Valley, the Saipua storefront serves as what, co-owner, Sarah Ryhanen, describes as a working "laboratory for creativity" where she and her partner, Eric Famifan, can "play with different aesthetics."
Part-boutique, part-private party catering and event space, Home/Made is the brainchild of metal artist, Leisah Swenson, and chef, Monica Byrne of nearby Tini Wine Bar. Opened in early July, this new, Red Hook address mixes and matches contemporary design with relics of the past resulting in a well-edited lineup of industrial home furnishings, jewelry, antiques, and architectural salvages.
Appropriately named for an expertise in all things sweet and satisfying, this bakery-meets-coffee shop keeps locals content with its sugar-filled treats. Once an abandoned, old storefront church, the space was renovated and transformed into a hip, retro-inspired dessert and coffee hangout in 2005 by owners Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito. Merging Lewis' know-how in desserts from his first venture, Chocolate Bar in the West Village, and Poliafito's savvy in web design and coffee shop culture, Baked has become the ultimate dessert spot.
Owned and operated by husband and wife team, Ben Schneider and Sohui Kim, The Good Fork is a cozy eatery serving authentic, Korean-infused dishes along with an eclectic fare. Chef and owner, Kim, crafts this seasonally-inspired menu from the fresh produce she finds at Red Hook's very own working farm. This local, homegrown influence extends beyond the food—the homey space is outfitted with exposed brick walls, a curved wooden ceiling and snug booths—all designed by Schneider.
• Reds Produce, 289 Columbia Street, 718-506-5432
This recently opened, quaint tapas bar injects the surrounding 'hood with some Spanish spice. Aptly named for its vibrant red walls and location, Reds Produce is hidden in a small alcove on the outskirts of Red Hook. In keeping with tradition, Spanish-born owner, Rishi Puntes, provides authentic tastes of Spain with a selection of Spanish wine and sangria along with classic delicacies, Tortilla Espanola and Chorizo Caliente. This tapas joint might be located in the heart of Brooklyn, but it operates on Spanish time, so remember to swing by before or after the daily siesta.
An established neighborhood hangout, Hook & Anchor is Red Hook's updated, modern rendition of a diner—furnished with a bar and swivel-stools and offering an epically long menu packed with good, old-fashioned comfort food. On Thursday, Frida,y and Saturday evenings this laid-back eatery transforms into a lively karaoke joint hosted by the fab drag queen, Kay Sera.
• Annabelle's, 44 Beard Street, 718-643-1500
• Annabelle's, 44 Beard Street, 718-643-1500
Chef and Owner, Neil Ganic of the Petite Crevette in Carroll Gardens, opened this new watering hole across from the colossal new IKEA in early June. In spite of its sweet-sounding name (after Ganic's daughter), Annabelle's has a distinctively masculine feel with its black and blue, interior, stately mahogany bar, and elevated stage for live music acts. Ganic features a small menu with a focus on seafood, but soon he'll be reviving his old, fish joint, Bouillabaisse, in the adjoining dining-room come fall.
• Botanica, corner of Coffey Street and Conover Street
The mixology craze has arrived in Red Hook with the opening of the new bar-soon-to-be restaurant, Botanica. Shakers in hand, the barkeeps-cum-alchemists are mixing up some tasty, fruit and alcohol muddled concoctions such as the strawberry basil martini and the Blueberry Gimlet.
True to its name, this bite-sized wine bar has become a much beloved spot since its opening in 2006—where one can to grab a glass of organic wine and nosh on some cheese and bruschetta. Owner and Chef, Monica Byrne, takes advantage of the local resources and updates her menu with the fresh ingredients and produce she buys at the nearby Farmer's Market.
A far-flung slice of Brooklyn finds its groove.