Williamsburg’s younger, more anarchic inhabitants are now found southeast in industrial Bushwick: a vast expanse of artists’ lofts, underground music venues, graffiti-swathed alleyways, obscure saloons, and avant-garde eateries. With a resolute DIY ethos and reminiscent more of Berlin than Brooklyn, Bushwick offers today’s visitor a glimpse of what the East Village or the Lower East Side might once have been.
Brooklyn’s latest generation of artists and musicians are filling this traditionally blue-collar neighbourhood with exhilarating new colours, sounds and flavours. Whet your appetite with the area’s many large-scale street artworks, perhaps on a guided tour, before visiting some of the nearby contemporary galleries for innovative installations, category-transforming digital works, sculpture and illustration, painting and photography. Then devour equally innovative cooking, either from eateries housed in repurposed industrial spaces, or served from DIY venues, chameleonic loft spaces and the galleries themselves. Garnish the whole sumptuous affair with craft cocktails and local draughts, before an eve of quintessentially Bushwick distraction.
Stroll down Bushwick’s gallery Mecca, Knickerbocker Street, before heading to the courtyard of number 66; renowned Interstate Projects (http://www.interstateprojects.org/). Founded by Pennsylvanian artist Tom Weinrich in 2011, to facilitate exhibitions by postgraduate contemporaries, Weinrich’s gallery endures as a staple of Bushwick’s experimental landscape. With a focus on avant-garde photography, exploratory digital works and work derived from interactivity and technology, Interstate Projects encompasses large-scale installations, collaborative group shows, and visual dialogues between contemporary artists.
Past exhibitions have included:
Once visually nourished, head to the several other galleries found on many of Knickerbocker’s nearby streets – all equally appetising.
Endowed with an amazingly – and incongruously – arboreal front yard, Flushing Avenue’s Forrest Point (http://www.forrestpoint.com/) is perhaps Bushwick’s most distinctive eatery. Housed within a converted gas station, the restaurant is adorned with an assortment of kaleidoscopic murals and neon signs, and offers diners equally eclectic, modern reinterpretations of Middle Eastern and New American cuisine.
Try their signature house cocktail of milk punch; eccentric elixirs of whiskey, rum or Vida mezcal, with star anise, papaya, Glendalough Mountain Strength Poitin, and Lapsang Souchong tea.
The food is just as inventive, with:
The tiny (small in size but by no means stature) Fairweather Bushwick (http://fairweatherbushwick.com/) stands nestled between a seamstress and a transport academy at 274 Wyckoff Avenue. Originally imagined as a traditional patisserie and café, proprietor Ebru Brun - alongside chef John Creger - have created a twenty-two seated fine dining affair, amidst ramshackle wooden floors and exposed brickwork. From an expansive, shared tabletop, Fairweather Bushwick serves experimental Sensory Tasting Dinners consisting of ten to twelve courses of ‘sensory journeys’, both aural and edible, with a focus on seasonal produce and locally, organically sourced animals.
Recent menus have featured:
The aural accompaniment comes in the form of music: a dessert of chocolate, smoke and whiskey, for example, was complemented by The Lushlife Project’s song, ‘Budapest Eskimos’ - a lyrical testament to dinner conversations that transform new acquaintanceships into true friendships.
All in all, Fairweather Bushwick offers unexpected flavours, sounds and visions, certain to delight any palate.
Pleasantly tumbledown, with plenty of farmhouse charm, The North East Kingdom is reminiscent of leafy Vermont, deep within the industrial wilderness that is Bushwick.
Filled by evergreens, taxidermy deer and other various artefects, owners Paris Smeraldo and Meg Lipke serve seasonal foraged, farm-to-table food. Drawn from nearby purveyors, and artisans - as well as produce from their very own fields - contemporary American cuisine characterises the Kingdom’s menu.
Sumptuous slab-cut pork chops, organic chicken-pot pies, heartiest mushroom risotto, tender-roasted beets and Malpeque oysters constitute an ever-changing menu, lead by seasonality.
Accompanied by edible elderflower and ostrich fern, black birch and dandelion green, savour your food under candlelight, before descending down into The Den.
An intimate affair housed within The Kingdom’s wine cellar, enjoy pre-Prohibition craft cocktails, such as Sunshine Days; Hamilton pot still gold rum, with peppercorn bitters and lime. Those looking for an authentic taste of Vermont should ask for The Smoking Man; barrelhound scotch, dolin dry, black walnut allspice dram, ginger and lemon.