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    Brooklyn

    Brooklyn has changed so much since I was a kid, and parts of it are probably unrecognizable from when my dad was born at Brooklyn Jewish hospital in 1943. A lot of this has been good change in the form of art, culture, neighborhood-defining restaurants, shops and more. This week, we’ve gooped Brooklyn, rounding up some of the best spots for your perusal/exploration (or in case you need a bite on your way to the new Barclays Center).

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    Eat

    From the institutions we keep coming back to,
    to the hot spots opening every other second, here’s a list of where we're dining in Brooklyn now.

    Isa | Williamsburg
    348 Wythe Ave.
    347.689.3594

    The latest restaurant from designer Taavo Somer of very cool Freemans and Peels in the city, Isa is, unsurprisingly, very cool. The food is simple yet innovative, focusing on the flavors of the quality ingredients with frequent hints of smoke from the wood-burning oven.

    Marlow & Sons | Williamsburg
    81 Broadway
    718.384.1441

    Photo: Daniel Krieger

    Hit this neighborhood institution for oysters, drinks and always-on, ingredient-focused, simple New American fare. No reservations means you’ll almost always wait, but grab a drink, bring some friends and make a night of it.

    Parish Hall | Williamsburg
    109a North 3rd St.
    718.782.2602

    Start off a lazy Sunday with some steel cut oats or a plate of smoked trout and eggs at Parish Hall, an awesome brunch, lunch and dinner spot on the north side of the neighborhood from the people behind the Burg’s beloved Egg.

    Rye | Williamsburg
    247 South 1st St.
    718.218.8047

    Rye is a gem of a neighborhood restaurant, nestled away on a residential Williamsburg street. The small space, a throwback to the casual elegance of the Prohibition era, offers intimate dining, perfect for a date. The cocktails here are particularly excellent and we love the sophisticated comfort food (everyone raves about the meatloaf sandwich).

    Roberta’s | Bushwick
    261 Moore St.
    718.417.1118

    It’s worth the few extra stops on the L train (and the wait once you get there) for some of the best wood-fired pizzas in New York and very good rustic Italian (including veggies from their very own co-op garden) in this industrial-hip space in Bushwick.

    Blanca | Bushwick
    261 Moore St.
    646.703.2715

    Roberta’s splashy little sister opened earlier this year in a nearby converted warehouse. Just 12 seats face a massive open kitchen that churns out the tasting-menu only option at $180 a pop, which is steep for anywhere in NYC, let alone Bushwick. But the food is fantastic, the vibe is cool and sleek, and it’s a serious foodie experience.

    Al di Là | Park Slope
    248 5th Ave.
    718.783.4565

    A homey and casual neighborhood trattoria so popular it has Manhattanites lining out the door (reservations aren’t taken, but you can wait in their charming wine bar next door). The menu hasn’t changed much since opening in 1998, because it’s pretty much perfect Venetian fare, with particularly excellent pastas.

    Franny's | Prospect Heights
    295 Flatbush Ave.
    718.230.0221

    Franny’s churns out some of the best pizza and locally-sourced food in Brooklyn, maybe even NYC. Hit the original location while you can, as they will be moving to a larger space by the end of the year, keeping the old space for a new restaurant, Marco’s, to open in the spring of 2013.

    Ample Hills Creamery | Prospect Heights
    623 Vanderbilt Ave.
    347.240.3926

    Handcrafted ice cream and sorbet made in small batches, Ample Hills gets its cream and eggs from local farms upstate for the freshest (and most sustainable) product possible, in 24 flavors that change with the seasons. They also do really delicious and beautiful custom ice cream cakes, for any occasion.

    Henry Public | Cobble Hill
    329 Henry St.
    718.852.8630

    This handsome, old-timey Brooklyn saloon, with a limited “Bill of Fare” of simple and homey food, including a great burger, is perfect for a late supper and whiskey cocktails with friends.

    Pok Pok | Cobble Hill
    127 Columbia St.
    718.923.9322

    People are crazy for this Thai via Portland import to the BK, for good reason – the fresh takes on Thai classics are seriously good (and run on the hot side), from the signature charcoal roasted hen with lemongrass to the sweet, spicy salads and more, plus an awesome Thai-inspired cocktail menu (the Pok Pok Bloody Mary with Thai chilies is a serious kick in the ass.)

    The Grocery | Carroll Gardens
    329 Henry St.
    718.852.8630

    Quality ingredients, imaginatively prepared from this superb market-driven menu keeps this tiny place on the top of the borough’s fine dining list year after year. It’s pricey, but for one of the best bargains in the borough, try the Green Plate Special - $40 for the four-course veggie tasting menu.

    Mile End | Boerum Hill
    97A Hoyt St.
    718.852.7510

    Hearty, meaty sandwiches and Montreal-style deli food (think house-smoked meats, poutine, brisket and more) served deluxe. Make sure to get a pickle on the side and wash it all down with a good glass of wine.

    Vinegar Hill House | Vinegar Hill
    72 Hudson Ave.
    718.522.1018

    A restaurant that redefined its namesake neighborhood, the cozy, low-lit décor is as appetizing as the solid, well-prepared, seasonal menu. We love their brunch, especially the sourdough pancakes and Bloody Mary’s.

    The Pines | Gowanus
    284 3rd Ave.
    718.596.6560

    While this highly-anticipated Gowanus opening keeps the atmosphere casual, with an artfully shabby, worn in dining room and larger garden in the back, the menu is decidedly ambitious with an Italian bent (think cavatelli with duck heart) with lots of interesting seasonal salads and antipasti.

    The goop Birchbox Reveal

    A couple of weeks ago, we partnered with Birchbox to create our very own goop box for October, full of samples from brands we love. Below is a sneak peak at some of the product samples you may find in your goop box. If you haven't subscribed, you can also purchase individual full-size products here.
    Click here to see the full goop selection

    Only available in the US. Please Note: Images shown are of full-size products.

    Drink

    Brooklyn is a place to make a night of it – they’ve nailed unpretentious yet super hip drinking and killer cocktails. Here’s just a sip of our favorites.

    Hotel Delmano | Williamsburg
    82 Berry St.
    718.387.1945

    Slide into one of the leather banquettes or up to the long marble bar for one of the best cocktails on the north side in this old New York feeling tattoo parlor turned cocktail lounge.

    Brooklyn Winery | Williamsburg
    213 North 8th St.
    347.763.1506

    Take a tour of the winery or grab a carafe of their house varietal in the attached old-Brooklyn feeling wine bar. This is a great addition to the neighborhood.

    Black Mountain Wine House | Carroll Gardens
    415 Union St.
    718.522.4340

    Like running into little romantic cabin in the middle of nowhere, in the middle of Brooklyn, this warmly lit, cozy wooden house offers an excellent selection of wines and a small menu of casual small plates such as crostini, cheese and daily specials. Brimming with charm (and without typical wine bar pretension) this is a great spot for a laid-back date or for meeting up for a drinks and then just never leaving.

    Weather Up | Prospect Heights
    589 Vanderbilt Ave.
    212.766.3202

    White subway tiles, a chill vibe and great tunes sum up this bar in Prospect Heights, worth traveling to for a drink or many. They always seem to be playing the right tunes, but you can still hear yourself speak. To make a night of it, grab dinner at The Vanderbilt, a very solid, lively restaurant across the street.

    Clover Club | Cobble Hill
    210 Smith St.
    718.855.7939

    For a dignified cocktail in Brooklyn, made by a proper vested and bearded mixologist. The bar has a great day-of-yore, speakeasy feel without being overdone.

    Stay

    Here’s a peek at a couple new hotels we’re psyched about.

    King & Grove | Williamsburg
    160 N. 12th St.
    718.218.7500

    The highlight of this swank hotel located right on McCarren Park is the saltwater swimming pool, (which you can rent pool passes for if you're not lodging), with full bar and snack service. The complimentary bike rentals and rooftop lounge make King & Grove a slice of vacation in the middle of bustling Billyburg. Can't wait to find out what cool chef will dominate the sleek, wood-paneled restaurant space downstairs.

    Wythe Hotel | Williamsburg
    80 Wythe Ave.
    718.460.8000

    This hotel, brought to you by the masterminds behind Williamsburg’s beloved Marlow & Sons and Diner, represents the recent changes to the neighborhood’s waterfront - it's suddenly the place to be. The Wythe comes complete with locavore restaurant Reynards, a rooftop bar, rooms with serious foodie-approved minibars, indie brand luxury amenities and views of both the Brooklyn and Manhattan skylines. Oh, and if you're travelling in a band, as one does in Williamsburg, you can book their “Band Room”, complete with bunk beds.

    Shop

    From a boutique with the best of indie style to
    finding an esoteric olive oil at a specialty store, we love shopping in the BK.

    I Hate Perfume | Williamsburg
    93 Wythe Ave.
    718.384.6890

    A plethora of scents are sold in this perfume gallery, ranging from the usual flowery ones to the very distinct, and sometimes strange - "Cucumber Sandwich," "Wet Pavement," and "Dust" to name just a few. The nose behind this alchemist's shop is an ex-taxi driver, inspired to become a perfumer by his hatred for the some of the horrible scents worn by women getting into his car in the evening, that would linger and make him sick. Hey, we’ve all been there.

    Mociun | Williamsburg
    224 Wythe Ave.
    718.387.3731

    Caitlin Mociun, beautiful pattern designer whose line of upscale hipster clothing originally reeled us in a few years back, has turned her eye to curating handcrafted ceramics, textiles, jewelry and more in her light-filled, airy store in North Williamsburg. Come here for delicate and truly special knick-knacks for the home.

    Darr | Williamsburg
    109a North 3rd St.
    718.782.2602

    Last time we visited this antique shop with artful displays, they’d also started selling delicate garments with Darr's trademark slightly dark and moody style.

    Pilgrim | Williamsburg
    68 North 3rd St.
    718.218.7456

    This lifestyle shop will kit out the cool dudes who surf, look good, listen to hard-to-find LP's and collect coffee table books. There are a few choice pieces for his girlfriend, too.

    Sprout Home | Williamsburg
    44 Grand St.
    718.388.4440

    For the urban gardener or anyone just looking for a beautiful plant or flowers, Sprout is where it’s at.

    Brooklyn Flea | Fort Greene & Williamsburg
    176 Lafayette Ave.
    27 N. 6th St.

    Yes, you go to the Brooklyn Flea to shop from the hundreds of vintage and antique vendors, but more so it’s become a classic New York experience. (We also go for the awesome food!) The markets take place outdoors from April through Thanksgiving (Saturdays in Fort Greene and Sundays in Williamsburg) and indoors to in the landmark former Williamsburgh Savings Ban from Thanksgiving through March.

    A. Cheng | Park Slope
    152 5th Ave.
    718.783.2826

    A solid mix of A. Cheng's feminine, wearable pieces with niche brands like Steven Alan and Dolce Vita. It's a stroller friendly-spot (this is indeed Park Slope) where you'll get friendly and attentive service. If a shirt or a skirt just doesn't look right, they'll tell you and then find you something better to try. You won't walk out without a great find.

    Bird | Park Slope
    316 5th Ave.
    718.768.4940

    Stocking a fun and slightly quirky mix of American and international designers from A.P.C. to Alexander Wang, the selection is vast yet well-curated. Their men’s store is just as well-stocked. Cobble Hill and Williamsburg locations also.

    BKLYN Larder | Prospect Heights
    228 Flatbush Ave.
    718.783.1250

    From the Franny’s gang comes this small gourmet grocery shop with great specialty and pantry items, including an excellent cheese and salumi selection from small-batch producers. Try their yummy comfort-focused prepared foods (think turkey meatloaf and roast chicken) when you don’t feel like cooking. They also do great cheese classes and gift boxes for the holidays.

    Shen Beauty | Cobble Hill
    315 Court St.
    718.576.2679

    You no longer have to trek into Manhattan to get a decent moisturizer. Reminding us of what Space NK was first like when it opened, Shen Beauty offers an ever-expanding range of exclusive, niche brands, such as Kate Logan and Percy & Reed, in a clean, bright and elegantly-girly space, that’s a pleasure to shop in.

    See

    Photo: Jin Wong

    There’s so much art and culture to absorb in this
    borough, and it's a wonderful place to spend a day with the whole family.

    Photo: Justin Van Soest

    Brooklyn Museum | Prospect Heights
    200 Eastern Pkwy.
    718.638.5000

    One of the largest and oldest art museums in the country, The Brooklyn Museum, housed in a gorgeous Beaux-Arts building at the top of Prospect Park, is also one of our favorite Brooklyn landmarks.

    Brooklyn Botanic Gardens | Prospect Heights
    1000 Washington Ave.
    718.623.7200

    Like a museum of nature’s splendor, The Brooklyn Botanical Gardens is covered in acres of gorgeous plants and flowers. From the Japanese Tea Garden to the Lily-Pad exhibit, the Rose Garden and places to stop for a snack and a drink throughout, this is a great place to stroll or spend a day with the kids.

    Drummer’s Grove | Lefferts Gardens
    Parkside & Ocean Ave. entrance, Prospect Park

    Jamming since 1968, since the Congo Square Drummers started gathering here informally, you can still catch this drum circle every Sunday, April through October 2 pm to dusk. Bring your drum and join the circle or just watch the listen and enjoy.

    The Intercourse | Red Hook
    159 Pioneer St.
    718.596.3000

    Artist Dustin Yellin has recently opened this non-profit contemporary arts center, located in a large warehouse space, a 19th century brick and timber building, in Red Hook. It feels a bit like a young PS1, with one of the largest uninterrupted exhibition spaces in New York City, both indoor and outdoor exhibition space, public programs, artists residencies, and a magazine.

    ShapeShifter Lab | Gowanus
    18 Whitwell Pl.
    646.820.9452

    With nightly events that feature established and emerging musicians, there’s always something good playing in this performance space/jazz club, run by bass player Matthew Garrison, son of Jimmy Garrison (bass player for John Coltrane).

    The goop collection

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