Doctor's Review: Medicine on the Move

August 23, 2017

© Adam Macchia

Equal parts bowling alley, restaurant and concert venue, Brooklyn Bowl was deemed “one of the most incredible places on earth” by Rolling Stone magazine

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New York

Six of the best Brooklyn neighbourhoods to visit right now

Williamsburg

No area is so emblematic of Brooklyn’s metamorphosis from hardscrabble city to hipster heaven as Williamsburg. Ground zero is Bedford Avenue, where right now “American Nouveau” restaurants are king. Ignore your own the doctor’s advice and head to Sweet Chick (164 Bedford Ave; tel: 347-725-4793; sweetchicknyc.com), a southern-style communal-tabled eatery where the chicken is brined in sweet tea before being fried and served up on your choice of waffles. You can also opt for the barbecue “sloppy duck” sliders while sipping a cocktail served in a mason jar. Another great pick is Rye (247 South 1st Street; tel: 718-218-8047; ryerestaurant.com), which has both upscale mains, and comfort food like their meatloaf sandwich.

For entertainment, one of the neighbourhood’s best-known spots is Brooklyn Bowl (61 Wythe Avenue; tel: 718-963-3369; brooklynbowl.com). It’s not just a bowling alley; in true Williamsburg spirit, it’s a bowling alley located in a former ironworks building that’s also a concert venue that also serves gourmet food. For the more museum-minded, the quirky City Reliquary (370 Metropolitan Avenue; tel: 718-782-4842; cityreliquary.org; Thursday to Sunday; by donation) is a collection of seemingly random pieces of New York paraphernalia: rocks dug up during subway construction, seltzer bottles, old postcards and anything that suits the museum’s fancy.

Downtown

Downtown Brooklyn has been transformed in the past decade, with the arrival of the Barclay’s Center arena and new zoning laws allowing for condo construction. It’s New York’s largest business district outside of Manhattan, and has plenty of unique architecture to gawk at.

Two must-sees are the Williamsburgh Savings Bank Tower (1 Hanson Place), the area’s most famous building, with its massive arched windows and four-faced clock. Even more unique is the former Brooklyn Fire Headquarters (365 Jay Street), a striking 1892 structure with brick columns and two pyramidal roofs. Downtownbrooklyn.com has self-guided architectural tours for those interested.

If you’re with the kids, you can grab a slice of the city’s best cheesecake and an egg cream at Junior’s (386 Flatbush Avenue Extension; tel: 718-852-5257; juniorscheesecake.com), and head to the child-friendly New York Transit Museum (Boerum Place; tel: 718-694-1600; mta.info/mta/museum), where visitors can explore vintage cars and more housed in an obsolete 1936 subway station. When the weather is cooperating, check out the MetroTech Commons (Bridge Street and Myrtle Ave;downtownbrooklyn.com/places/parks-attractions/metrotech-commons), a 1.4-hectare park with outdoor sculptures, which gets all decked out in the holiday season.

Fort Greene

Fort Greene, home to countless artists and authors over the years, is a walkable district of cafés, brownstones and tree-lined streets. Designed by famous architects Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux, Fort Greene Park (nycgovparks.org/parks/fortgreenepark) is officially Brooklyn’s first, and occupies the high ground of the neighbourhood.

There are plenty of options for artistic entertainment. Among the choices, you can catch performances at the various venues of the Brooklyn Academy of Music (tel: 718-636-4100; bam.org)and the Kumble Theater for the Performing Arts (Flatbush Avenue Extension; tel: 718-488-1624; kumbletheater.org).

Keeping with the theme of peaceful tastefulness, drop by Yu Interiors (15 Greene Avenue; tel: 718-237-5878; yuinteriors.com) offers intricate, quality housewares to put towards your Canada Customs allowance. For a bite to eat, Le Petit Bakery (354 Myrtle Ave; tel: 718-875-6500; lepetitbakery.com) is a quaint hole-in-the-wall offering up plenty of sweets, including the Squat, which is reported to be one of the best Cronut knock-offs anywhere in the five boroughs.

Bushwick

With the lightning gentrification of Williamsburg, Bushwick has taken up the mantle of Brooklyn’s premier “up-and-coming” neighbourhood. Soaring housing costs in the rest of Brooklyn are largely responsible for the exodus of artists to Bushwick, which is now a hub of galleries and studios — at least until rents skyrocket and folks flee to Queens.

The Bogart Salon (56 Bogart Street; bushwickgalleries.com/spaces for current exhibits), a collection of exhibitions at artist lofts, has been a huge part of the Bushwick arts scene for the past few years. The artistic director who put it on the map, Peter Hopkins, left in October 2012 to establish 299 Meserole (299 Meserole Street; 299meserole.com), which will open in January 2014 and will feature contemporary art exhibitions in a converted warehouse. Chelsea mainstay Luhring Augustine (25 Knickerbocker Avenue; tel: 718-386-2746; luhringaugustine.com; Thursday to Sunday)recently set up their own Brooklyn outpost, while Storefront Bushwick (324 Ten Eyck Street; storefrontbushwick.com; 917-714-3813) which recently moved to a bigger location, is getting a lot of buzz. And finally the English Kills Gallery (#1-114 Forrest Street; tel: 718-366-7323; englishkillsartgallery.com) runs a series of avant-garde solo shows by local artists. Use the alley entrance.

If all those starving artists have you craving nourishment, Roberta’s (261 Moore Street; tel: 718-417-1118; robertaspizza.com) hides awarm and rustic interior and wood-fired pizza behind an unremarkable exterior. Bushwick also has a large Hispanic population, and there’s plenty of good inexpensive eateries representing that community. The Tortilleria Mexicana Los Hermanos (271 Starr Street; tel: 718-456-3422) make their own tortillas and fill ’em with any number of ingredients for cheap.

Crown Heights

This ethnically-diverse neighbourhood is famously home to a large number of Hassidic Jews from the Chabad Lubavitch sect. To step into another world, try the Hassidic Walking Tour (jewishtours.com; adults US$50, children under 12 US$25; closed Saturdays), usually guided by folksy Tennessee rabbi (no, really) Beryl Epstein. It’s part tour and part infomercial for Hassidic Judaism. If he suspects you’re from a Jewish background — erroneously in my case — he might try to get you to slip on tefilliin or come to synagogue. Even if conversion to Hassidic Judaism isn’t on your New York agenda, this tour is a fascinating look into an otherwise-closed world. Kosher lunch is included, but pick up some challah or a doughnut from Gombo’s Heimishe Bakery (328 Kingston Avenue; tel: 347-529-0589; closed Saturday)afterwards.

You can try some of the neighbourhood’s Caribbean food at The Islands (803 Washington Avenue; 718-398-3575),a small two-floor resto where classics like slow-cooked jerk chicken and curried goat are on offer. Nearby is the Brooklyn Museum (200 Eastern Parkway; tel: 718-638-5000; brooklynmuseum.org; US$12, kids under 12 free), one of the US’s largest art museums on the edge of the neighbourhood. It’s surrounded by 19th-century parks, gardens and attractions, such as Prospect Park, the Brooklyn Botanic Garden and the Prospect Park Zoo.

DUMBO

One of Brooklyn’s newest hotspots is DUMBO, or Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass. The former industrial district, in the shadow of two bridges (the Brooklyn Bridge being the other) is great for photographers, with views of the Manhattan skyline at Brooklyn Bridge Park (brooklynbridgepark.org).

DUMBO’s unofficial sport is boutique and craft shopping. The Brooklyn Women’s Exchange (55 Pierrepont Street, tel: 718-624-3435; brooklyn-womens-exchange.org) is a non-profit store selling the wares of hundreds of local Brooklynites, from hand-knitted garments to Christmas tree decorations. The shops at 145 Front Street (tel: 718-928-3970; check their Facebook page for details)make up a kind of urban micro-mall, with plenty of tiny boutiques and kiosks hocking handmade jewelry, antiques, beauty products and more. For fashion, NOS (81 Front Street; tel: 718-422-0095; nosboutique.com) sells designer clothing and accessories for both men and women.

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