MAISON PREMIERE

Maison Premiere, Bedford Avenue, Brooklyn, NY, USA

Easily the best-looking restaurant in Brooklyn, Maison Premiere is one of those places that makes you feel better as soon as you enter. With an artfully distressed New Orleans vibe more than certainly ‘borrowed’ from the legendary Napoleon House in the French Quarter, the choice seats in the house are up at the horseshoe shaped bar, although there is a beautiful little garden out back too. It’s chock full of ‘old stuff’, with vintage light fixtures, scuffed furniture, wooden ceiling fans, and, old tin-framed mirrors; even the host is decked out in a three piece suit and bow tie.

Maison Premiere specialises in two things, oysters and absinthe, so you can imagine how things could turn out here. With over 30 types of oyster to choose from, this place is an absolute dream if you’re an oyster fan – in fact one of our favourite things to do is just pop in for a few of the little molluscs and a glass of fizz up at the bar. There is a whole host of other great things to choose from though and we can definitely recommend the sea urchin with butternut broth and the incredible trout with burnt butter sauce and pecans. Don’t forget about dessert either – the cheesecake with warm chocolate ganache poured over is an absolute winner.

WIN SON

Win Son, Graham Avenue, Brooklyn, NY, USA

This casual Taiwanese-American restaurant has all the usual Brooklyn design tropes – exposed brick walls, white tiles, wooden floors, and minimal decoration. Perhaps, knowing how good their food was, owners Trigg Brown and Josh Ku didn’t want any unnecessary details to distract from the joy of eating here, and rightly so, as this is simply some of the best food we’ve had in New York.

As with all exceptionally good restaurants, Win Son has one of those menus that leave you dizzy when trying to narrow it down on what to order. One thing we’d say is absolutely essential though, is the BK Egg Bomb, a roti-style flat bread wrapped around wagyu beef tartare and a fried egg – yes it is every bit as good as it sounds. We’d also have to recommend the pan-griddled pork buns, the marinated cucumber, the fried egg plant with black vinegar and keffir cheese, and the zhajiangmian noodles with lamb, yellow bean paste and cucumber.

KINGS COUNTY IMPERIAL

Kings County Imperial, Skillman Avenue, Brooklyn, NY, USA

To sum it up: Hipster Chinese. Yes, Kings County Imperial is a Chinese restaurant, Williamsburg-style, with exposed brick walls, rickety wooden furniture, art deco lighting flourishes, and bearded waiters in Hawaiian shirts. In one concession to tradition there is one big table near the door with a Lazy Susan and we’d definitely recommend coming with your mates and bagging this spot if you can – after all, who doesn’t love a Lazy Susan?! They score big points for growing some of their own Chinese vegetables in their back garden too, a marker of the quality and freshness of the food on offer.

Another good idea is to arrive or book early if you can. Not only does it get very busy later on but if you’re here before 7pm you can take advantage of the special set menus, which are a bloody bargain. We were there in a group of 5 and paid $15 per person for dim sum, rice, and noodles and we were STUFFED by the end. Even though it’s a ‘set menu’ you still get to choose which dishes you want from the menu in each category and we’d definitely recommend the sesame shrimp toast (possibly the best we’ve ever had) with spicy mustard and Chinese Ketchup; the soup dumplings; the dry fried long bean with minced pork; the ‘angry pig’ fried rice with pork and smoked tofu; and the dan dan mian noodles. Essential eating if you’re a fan of Chinese food.

SUNDAY IN BROOKLYN

Sunday In Brooklyn, Wythe Avenue, Brooklyn, NY, USA

Sunday in Brooklyn, a three-story gem on Whythe Avenue ticks all the boxes: a relaxed neighbourhood atmosphere; great interiors; friendly service; and fantastic food. It’s open from breakfast right through to dinner seven days a week and it’s rightfully always packed full of locals (it’s new enough to be off the tourist trail) and in the summer tables spill on to the street and the roof terrace is open for business.

Some signature items are available throughout the day, such as the burger and black cod pastrami, but it’s worth coming by for dinner for the extended menu. We love the garden pickles, and chicken liver mousse with their incredible grilled sourdough bread, and a fresh black sea bass crudo served with crisp curry leaves, radish and turmeric. The standout for us, however, is the wood roasted maitake mushroom in an onion vinaigrette – you’ll want to order extra bread to soak up all those juices. For dessert, sit back with a big slice of the Chocolate Cake with Peanut Praline and Caramelized White Chocolate and plan your next visit.

OPS

Ops, Himrod Street, Bushwick, Brooklyn, NY, USA

Other than Totonnos, this might be our favourite pizza in NYC. A super-chilled spot in Bushwick, sitting outside here on a summer’s night with a beer and a couple of pizzas is about as good as it gets. There are a few set options such as the Juno – broccoli, potatoes, provola, and ricotta – but the real star of the show is the square pizza. With a slightly thicker base (but not too thick), you can add your own toppings to the basic margheritta and in our opinion you just can’t beat pepperoni and mushroom. Well worth making a special trip for.

LLAMA INN

Llama Inn, Withers Street, Brooklyn, NY, USA

There’s no indication that this bright, airy spot located on a pretty dodgy looking road serves up Peruvian food but that’s exactly what it does. It’s not authentic Peruvian food, nor does it pretend to be but with a chef whose CV includes Eleven Madison Park and Nuela it’s safe to say even the more unusual combos taste delicious. There’s a killer cocktail list to boot and having opened in November 2015 and become a staple on the local dining scene it’s busy even on a Monday night.

We’d recommend kicking off with the Cumbria cocktail, served sour style with big pineapple flavours and a couple of the sticks – the pork belly char siu with pickled chilis and spicy mayo and scallops with raisin chimichurri are a good place to start. The fluke ceviche drenched in a delicious acidic sauce, shouldn’t be missed either, and the quinoa, banana, avocado and cashew which sounds so wrong but is really so right. But the highlight is the whole bronzino fish with a creamy curry sauce and crispy brussel sprouts swimming in a crack-like asian chill vinegar. Take our tip and ask for an extra portion – you can thank us later. End with lime pie covered in burnt meringue and a couple more cocktails. This is one place you’ll want to go with company to make the most of the menu as you’ll want to try as much as possible.

LILIA

Lilia, Union Ave, Brooklyn, NY, USA

Located in a converted old garage in Brooklyn, Lilia is the welcome return of chef Missy Robbins, and is one of the hottest tables in all of New York right now. Needless to say the place is always packed, and wait times can be long, but it’s all totally worth it to get a seat in the beautiful dining room, filled with light thanks to the huge industrial windows.

Go with a group and order as much as possible! To start, we loved the cacio e pepe fritelle, the radishes with whipped ricotta, the chicken liver crostini, the cured sardines, and the roasted trumpet mushrooms.
Fresh pastas are the speciality here and unless something really grabs you from the mains, we’d recommend trying as many pastas as possible. It’s impossible to go wrong, as they’re all totally delicious, but if you want to know our favourites, go for the agnolotti, little rectangular parcels filled with soft sheep’s cheese, dried tomato, saffron and honey; the fettuccine with spicy lamb sausage; the ricotta gnocchi with broccoli pesto, basil and pistachios; and the linguine with tomato, anchovy and lemon.

YUJI RAMEN

Okonomi, Ainslie Street, Brooklyn, NY, USA

One thing New York does very well is great restaurants in improbable locations. Case in point is Yuji Ramen, a tiny spot on a quiet residential street in Brooklyn that looks like it could be someone front room. Inside there’s just a few seats at the wooden bar in front of the small kitchen and a couple of tables dotted around the room. Expect to wait for a seat but things do move quickly and they’ll text you when your table is ready.

In keeping with the slightly unlikely location, Yuji doesn’t serve your regular ramen, instead focusing on some more unusual variations not often see outside of Japan, including mazeman, which is a ramen without the broth. We’d recommend staring with some pickled vegetables and a glass of Kura sake which is made in Brooklyn, before ordering one mazeman and one ramen. From the former, we loved the uni version served with miso and orange zest (get an extra egg in there too) and from the latter, the tunakotsu, with a clear fishy broth and tuna belly is an absolute winner. If you’re after something different in the ramen stakes, Yuji is the place to be.

HAVE & MEYER

103 Havemeyer St, Brooklyn, NY 11211, USA

Have & Meyer is a cosy little wine bar in Brooklyn that delivers New York charm in spades. There’s an old vintage wooden bar, sleek hanging light pendants, a rustic tin ceiling, and the shelves are stocked from floor to ceiling with wine bottles. In the summer months tables spill out on to the pavement too. In short, if you’re looking for an incredible wine bar in Brooklyn, this is it.

It’s a great place to hang out but what makes it really special is the huge range of natural biodynamic wines that it offers by the glass – 90 to be exact. That’s something to get excited about, allowing you to try a whole bunch of interesting wines, from orange and white to red and rosé. We got particularly into the orange section as to see so many by the glass is rare indeed.

As if all that wasn’t already enough, there’s also beers, cocktails, and a range of small plates to tuck into, including cheese, charcuterie, and fresh pasta.

THE FOUR HORSEMEN

The Four Horsemen, Grand Street, Brooklyn, NY, USA

Even in the uncertain, risky world of restaurants, “a wine bar in Brooklyn co-owned by James Murphy of LCD Soundsystem” sounds like the kind of concept you’d bet your house on. And it’s a bet that’s certainly paid off for its headline owner, as this little place is always packed to the rafters, with people either perched up at the small bar or at one the few tables. It’s got a great atmosphere and a cool minimal vibe with white walls, natural woods, and old wine bottle being the dominant features – it really wouldn’t look out of place on a backstreet of Paris (which we suspect is exactly what they were going for).

Natural wines and small plates are the order of the day here, and although things do change around often, you can be sure to always find the warm house bread with cultured butter, plus a side of anchovies to kick things off while you decide. Over a glass of German sparkling resiling we also tucked in to salt cod fritters, plus a pretty special yellowfin tuna with yuzu kosho and smoked dulse (dish of the night), and buratta, n’duja, and mushrooms on toast – a little expensive at $18 but delicious none the less. For when you just want a few-snacks-with-wine kind of dinner, The Four Horsemen is a very good shout indeed.

PAULIE GEE’S

Paulie Gee's, Greenpoint Avenue, Brooklyn, NY, USA

This dark, narrow room just near the waterfront in Greenpoint is one of New York’s best pizza joints. When we say dark we mean it – the only natural light comes from the doorway and that slowly fades as you get further back into the room, lit gently by the pizza oven at the far end and sparse moody lighting. There’s no reservations and it does get busy but turn up early (before 8pm) and you shouldn’t have to wait too long.

Paulie Gee’s manages to tread that fine line between making a serious pizza with top ingredients but also having some fun along the way. There’s a big menu to choose from and we like that – none of the infuriating Naples tradition of ‘you’re getting margarita and that’s it’ here, oh no. For a flavour of what we mean consider pizzas such as the ‘Hometown Brisket’ topped with fresh mozzarella, beef brisket from Red Hook’s Hometown Bar-B-Que, house-pickled red onions, and a drizzle of Hometown Bar-B-Que sauce, or the ‘Ricotta Be Kiddin Me’ topped with mozzarella, Canadian bacon, sweet Italian fennel sausage, fresh basil, and post-oven fresh ricotta dollops.

We were very happy with the ‘Porkypineapple’ made with Italian tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, Parmigiano Reggiano, house-pickled pineapple, and post-oven speck and the ‘Mo Cheek’s’ – thats’ Italian tomatoes, Pecorino Romano, shaved Parmigiano Reggiano, house-pickled red onions, and Berkshire guanciale. This place is also amazing for vegans with at least nine vegan options on at any one time. For banging pizza with a bonus slice of FUN, Paulie Gee’s is where it’s at.

FRANKEL’S

Frankel's Delicatessen & Appetizing, Manhattan Avenue, Brooklyn, NY, USA

This little Jewish deli in Greenpoint has a few seats and stools but is primarily a takeaway joint. It’s got that classic deli feel but slightly smarter (it’s only been open since 2016) with fresh modern branding and a bit more of a hipster vibe – this is Brooklyn after all.

All the classics are present and correct, from bagels to matzo ball soup. We loved the hot pastrami sandwich but make sure you ask for extra mustard as it’s a little light as they do it, and you need some more to cut through that meat. Get a smoked salmon bagel and a side of potato latkes too and you’ve got a cracking little lunch for two there. Take it to nearby McCarren Park and you’ll be winning at life.

BIRDS OF A FEATHER

Birds of a Feather, Grand Street, Brooklyn, NY, USA

Birds of a Feather is a new(ish) Sichuan specialist in Brooklyn, from the same team that have the Michelin-starred Cafe China in Midtown. Inside, it’s all minimal Asian-style design, with a long wooden table running down the middle and booths tucked up against the walls. It’s a popular spot with locals and perfect for bigger groups.

Being a Sichuan restaurant, lots of the dishes are covered in the eponymous mouth-numbing pepper – even the crunchy pickled vegetables have the unmistakable heat running through them. Spicy cumin lamb and thiny-sliced double-cooked pork with miso are the the picks of the mains, and, yep, they both bring plenty of heat. There’s also a decent dim sum menu, not strictly a Sichuan speciality, but there’s some good options here, including the poached wontons in chilli sauce and the steamed chicken dumplings with curry and spring onion. The xia long bao, however, have skins that are far too thick, but if you’re a sucker for a soup dumpling (like us) they still do a good job.

EGG

Egg, North 3rd Street, Brooklyn, NY, USA

Not to be confused with the nearby Egg Shop, Egg has been in its new current location on North 3rd Street since 2014 – it was a good move as its original site on 5th was tiny and wait times could be long. The new site is similarly minimal and industrial in its design, but much bigger with a room that starts long and narrow but opens out into a spacious main dining room.

Egg grows a lot of its own organic produce on tis farm in the Catskills and all their eggs are from happy cage free hens – they even make their own oat milk and it probably doesn’t get more Brooklyn than that. Yes eggs do feature heavily but there is a distinct Southern slant to the menu, with biscuits, gravy and grits popping up all over the place. Our favourite though is the duck hash – duck leg confit with potatoes, green onions and eggs. They also do some mean pancakes and French toast, best served drenched in maple syrup, and at lunch there’s some bigger dishes such as fried chicken, and a fried oyster sandwich. A solid breakfast and brunch all-rounder.

FIVE LEAVES

Five Leaves, Bedford Avenue, Brooklyn, NY, USA

Quintessential Brooklyn-cool, Five Leaves has been doing its thing for 10 years now and has become one of Greenpoint’s (and New York’s) best-loved spots. On the edge of McCarren Park, it’s in the heart of the action and in summer tables spill out on to the pavement, making it a perfect place to people watch and soak up the sun along with some great food.

Five Leaves is especially well known for its breakfast – think big plates of eggs and hash browns, plus stacks of ricotta pancakes, and the obligatory avocado toast. But we’re also big fans of the dinner menu, which adds some interesting creations amongst the American standards like the Five Leaves burger with truffle fries and the fresh market oysters. The side of brussel sprouts with a sweet and spicy sauce and pecans is one of our favourite things in New York, while the crispy black rice is a bit like bibimap, served in a hot iron pan and topped with fried egg, fermented raddish, spicy mayo, and pickled vegetables. There’s also a Shepherd’s pie for homesick Londoners, just in case you need something really comforting.

EGG SHOP

Egg Shop, North 8th Street, Brooklyn, NY, USA

Egg Shop, a cute all day cafe in Williamsburg (there’s also the original location in SoHo), is instragram-ready with pastel tiles on the walls, indoor plants, stripped back wooden floors, and a touch of Millenial pink on the leather seating. In the summer, the front windows open right up onto the street with a high bench and stools to give it a breezy, relaxed feel – exactly what Williamsburg is all about.

In case you hadn’t guessed, the menu revolves around eggs, with a range of breakfast sandwiches being especially good. There’s everything from a spicy sausage, egg, and cheese number (our favourite), all the way up to a serious steak and egg or fried chicken sandwich, if you’re really looking to kick the day off right. Whatever you do, make sure you order a side of hash browns too, these big crispy mounds of shredded potato are some of the best we’ve had. At dinner there’s a whole range of bigger dishes including burritos and burgers, but we reckon breakfast is where it’s really at.

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