When my parents came to visit in July, I started thinking about some things we could do that would be new and off the beaten path (that beaten path being Manhattan). We spent a day in the Bronx (more on that soon) and a whole day Red Hook, Brooklyn. There are quite a few fun things to do in this neighborhood that is being revived after taking a beating from Hurricane Sandy in 2012.
When they say that the journey is half the fun, they might be talking about the ferry ride over to Red Hook :). We grabbed the free Ikea Express ferry from Pier 11 (where Wall Street meets the East River). The twenty-minute boat ride gave us gorgeous views of Manhattan as we sailed toward Brooklyn. You can get off the boat at the first stop at Ikea, or you can get off at the second stop near some restaurants.
We hopped off at the second stop and walked over to Brooklyn Crab for lunch. We had heard great things about this 3-story open air “shack” with views of the water and a fun beachy menu. Among the four of us, we can say that the fish and chips and the crab roll were quite tasty, especially when paired with a pitcher of Narragansett beer.
From there, we wandered along the coastline to the Red Hook Winery, where we did a tasting of their selection. Red Hook Winery aims to uncover and highlight the best vineyard sites in New York state — “from the salty, sea-breeze-blown North Fork of Long Island to the stone, shale, and winter-dominated Finger Lakes.” They source the grapes from other parts of the state and create their own wine varieties. I’d found it difficult to find Cabernet Franc wine in NYC, but this winery had not one, not two, but THREE varieties of Cab Franc available for tasting! Their wines were delicious, and I’m glad we did the flight to be able to compare.
Following our wine tasting, we meandered over to a little shop that has become famous among New Yorkers: Steve’s Key Lime Pie. I regretted not purchasing a pie the last time we were in Red Hook. Since my parents are big key lime pie fans, I knew this was the perfect time to pick one up. I bought a frozen pie so that we could take it with us to our next stop and get it in the fridge by the time we got back home. Later that night, we cut into our pie and enjoyed every single bite!
Our next stop on the list had been much-anticipated by Rob. We’d learned of Van Brunt Stillhouse a few months ago and were eager to do a tour and tasting at their outpost in Red Hook. I reserved our tickets online ahead of time to ensure our spot. The tour was fine, but the tastings were ample — I particularly liked their rum (there was a hint of butterscotch!), and Rob loved their single malt whiskey. If you don’t care for liquor straight, they offer a variety of cocktails using their liquor.
From there we walked back toward Ikea to pick up our ferry to return to Manhattan. What I loved about Red Hook was the vast number of things to do that were all within walking distance of each other. There are plenty of other restaurants I’d like to try, like Red Hook Lobster Pound and Hometown BBQ, and new breweries seem to be popping up as the area revitalizes itself. If you’re looking for a unique taste of Brooklyn, I highly recommend the quick trip to Red Hook.