Williamsburg redux

So, I’ve finally gone and discovered the “other” Williamsburg.  Two weeks ago, I found myself in the Hasidic area of Williamsburg.  Today, I found the hipster part of Williamsburg.  I keep saying “hipster” as if it really means something to me anymore.  I’ve never been part of the trendy set, and in certain ways I’m more at home with the Hasidem rather than the artists that inhabit the northern part of Williamsburg.  Nevertheless, I did enjoy myself on both my trips.  The big difference:  this time I was able to stop and eat when I felt like it.

Okay, the upshot of it all is this:  Manhattan is outrageously expensive and most of the artistic types don’t have that kind of money.  For years, they’ve been going outside of Manhattan and one of their congregating places is Williamsburg.  Today, I found at least part of that area and it is pretty interesting.

I caught the local subway and got off at Union Square (14th Street) and transferred over to the L train.  I’ve never been on the L train, so for the third time in four weeks, I managed to do a little bit of subway exploration, too.

I got to the first stop in Brooklyn on the L train:  Bedford Avenue.

Here are a couple of views of the street.

Williamsburg - Bedford Ave 1

Williamsburg - Bedford Ave 2

 Bedford Ave 3

Williamsburg - Bedford Ave 4

One of the interesting points about this area are the low buildings.  There are a few eight story buildings, but the vast majority are just about three or four stories high.  The 30/40/50 story high buildings do exist in parts of Brooklyn, but the smaller buildings dominate it by far.

So, I wandered up and down Bedford Avenue for a while.  Actually, that isn’t quite true.  I wandered up it for about 5 blocks; but it peters out pretty quickly.  After about those 5 blocks, actually less than that, you are in a mostly residential area and no longer the commercial businesses.  So, I did what I love to do:  started exploring the back streets.

I didn’t find the “bustling metropolis” in those areas. 

 Williamsburg - not a bustling metropolis

Here’s a view two blocks from Bedford Avenue:

Williamsburg - close to artsy area

One thing I spotted more of than usual:  people selling junk on the sidewalk.  In Manhattan, it tends to be books and DVDs.  Here, it looked like some people were just doing some “yard sale” sorts of stuff, but with pretty small selections.

And I did find a nice area that looks a little third-worldish.

Williamsburg - wire jumble

In one of those back streets, I found an interestingly named business:  “Peter Doelgers Extra Beer Bar”.  I guess it won’t win any MADD awards.

One thing that I like to do:  look for what isn’t there.  In this case, I found a bunch of restaurants (30 to 40 or so).  But, only one was a Chinese restaurant.  There were three Japanese restaurants, but just the one Chinese place.  That’s pretty unusual in NYC.  For a while, I didn’t think I’d find even the one place.

I kept wandering and wandering.  I actually found myself near the Williamsburg Bridge at one point and near Greenpoint at another time.  When I realized I was near Greenpoint, and noting that I hadn’t had lunch, I started thinking about going back to “The King’s Feast” for the Polish Plate.  However, I just didn’t have the heart to do it again; and I’m glad for that.

So, I wandered back toward Bedford Ave. and when getting close, I discovered an interesting bit of vehicular art:

Williamsburg - housepainting van

I’m not at all sure about what sort of artistic statement the owners are trying to make.

Across the street was a place called “The Surf Bar”.  It actually took me a minute or two to find the name as it looks like a complete dive and the owners don’t appear to have a taste for having a sign name outside.

Williamsburg - outside the Surf Bar

What they did have were some old posted food reviews.  I took a look and thought that the place had character and decided to go in and try it.  The place is tiny and they really are into the surf motif.  The floor is covered with sand and the atmosphere is pure laid-back surfer dude.  While there, I discovered something that is endemic to Brooklyn, but doesn’t really exist in Manhattan:  backyard dining.

Williamsburg - inside the Surf Bar

In Manhattan, a lot of restaurants will expand out onto the sidewalk and the seats right next to the traffic are generally pretty popular.  In Brooklyn, the storefronts are very close to the street and it generally has smaller sidewalks.  What restaurants do is allow patrons to eat outside in back.  In the Surf Bar’s case, they had trees and a really pleasant and quiet atmosphere.

And killer Monkfish Chowder.  It was great!

So, you aren’t subjected to a third re-telling of The King’s Feast, but do hear about a great chowder from someone who really isn’t all that fond of chowder.

I also managed to find a place that looked interesting:  Artists & Fleas Indoor Market.  It’s just a big open storefront with a number of vendors inside.  I’ve seen a similar setup in Little Italy, but this one doesn’t really pull it off.  For the most part, the artists appear to be nothing more than T-shirt entrepeneurs.  At least it wasn’t the typical T-shirt garbage sold everywhere; but it was only T-shirts.  They had 33 1/3 RPM vinyl records and books, too.  Some clothing, but it was mostly uninteresting to me.

-H

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Explore posts in the same categories: Brooklyn, Wanderings

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