24 hours in Brooklyn
Author: Laurence Rosier Staines
Photography: Con Poulos + supplied
There's no denying the gastronomical appeal of New York's biggest borough, long considered one of the East Coast capitals for food and drink. But while there will always be an influx of pretenders riding on the area's hipster cred ($20 mac and cheese? C'mon), Brooklyn's claim to the forefront of everything fashionable, diverse and affordably delicious is in no way threatened. Here's what to do if you only have a day there.
John F. Kennedy International Airport is about an hour from Williamsburg, Greenpoint and Bushwick - a good base for our purposes. Stay at The Wythe, a 70-room hotel in a converted factory on the Williamsburg waterfront with a killer rooftop bar, or the slightly more eccentric Hotel Le Jolie for comfort and kitsch. Either way, settle in then head out.
The Wythe Hotel
You'll need coffee - good coffee. You can find it at Sweetleaf Williamsburg, a short walk towards the water (if it's hot, get the iced coffee they call 'Rocket Fuel'). Equally good is the nearby Blue Bottle - and there's the ever-reliable Toby's Estate Brooklyn. Is it Sunday? Wander over to the waterfront for Smorgasburg - not only one of the best words ever made but also a food market that's become a New York institution - and don't leave without some curios from the surrounding Brooklyn Flea.
Lunch gets short shrift in Brooklyn. The favoured pastime is brunch, a big and boozy affair that can last well into the afternoon. Your best options include Roberta's - a famous pizza place in Bushwick frequented by Beyonce and the Clintons, where you can have bacon, eggs and pizza - or Five Leaves in Greenpoint. Here the wait is long, but it's always worth it for Whiskey in a Jar or roast chicken with potato gratin and mushrooms. Grab a donut from Peter Pan up the street afterwards.
Bushwick is full of street art, and a lot of it is by the Bushwick Collective - you can see some of their best work on Troutman Street at walking pace. Those keen for more murals and installations should head to the buzzing Dumbo district and stroll through Brooklyn Bridge Park, then reward themselves with a visit to Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory or chocolatier Jacques Torres. If the sweets are the main reason for the trip, we won't tell anyone.
Possibly the hardest choice of the day is where to have dinner - but if you missed pizza for lunch, this is where to make up for it. Paulie Gee's in Greenpoint does some of the best in the United States, with locally-sourced, premium fresh ingredients that can include dried cherries, hot honey and speck. It's inventive but timeless, and the locally-skewed beer and wine list seals the deal.
Otherwise, head inland to Prospect Heights. Here you can dine tropically at Glady's, a Caribbean joint where the small menu yields some of the best jerk chicken around, flanked by a truly impressive rum list. Or there's Olmsted, where inventive haute cuisine becomes a little more affordable in the shape of watermelon sushi, grilled scallops and delicious guinea hen. Or there's Berg'n, a hall run by the Smorgasburg people for the locals where you can choose nearly anything from a rotating roster of boutique beer and delicious food stalls.
After-dinner drinks have to be at Williamsburg's Maison Premiere, one of the best cocktail bars in Brooklyn (try the absinthe colada and oysters, should you have any more room). Round out your night with a dance at Brooklyn Bowl and get ready to write off the next few hours as '[scene missing]'.
Cap it with an early breakfast at Prospect Park's Brunswick, where the surrounds - designed by the same landscape architect as Manhattan's Central Park - will do as much for your hangover as the coffee. And the coffee is real good.
Next step? Plan to go back to Brooklyn. American Express Explorer Card Members should make the most of their annual AU$400 travel credit* and put it towards their next flight.
This article is presented by the American Express Explorer Card. Want to get there now? With 100,000 Bonus Points* when you sign up for the Explorer Card and spend AU$1,500 in the first three months, you'll be in Brooklyn before you know it. Offer ends 15 May 2017.
*Terms and conditions apply. Visit American Express Explorer for more information.