Thursday, June 11, 2009

Williamsburg with Grace Bonney!

I wanted to do a detailed illustrated map of Williamsburg.. but.. no textas, no time, no scanner. Blah. :( This will have to do for now. The 'M' at Bedford Ave is the subway station - it's just one stop from Manhattan. The loop we walked was kind of between North 7th and Grand sts, with the main drag along Bedford Ave.

OK so, as you guys have probably picked up, I spent most of last week wandering around New York wide-eyed enthusiasm... I can't help it! It's such an inspiring city. But nothing could compare to the excitement of meeting Grace Bonney in Williamsburg last Friday!

YES! How cool is that!? I am still recovering from the excitement!

Grace is totally my blogging idol. Design*Sponge has been such an inspiration to me - both as a blogger and an independent creative business-person. Grace sets the standard for independent craft and design blogging - she's so incredibly prolific, and seems to have an innate ability to curate the site so perfectly - with just enough sneak-peek eye candy, new product and trend news, as well as introducing us to so many amazing emerging designers... not to mention supporting independent business women with her Biz ladies meet-ups and events! Ms Bonney clearly knows a thing or two about efficient multi-tasking.

Needless to say I was a little nervous to meet Grace - and totally star struck of course! But she truly is as sweet as she seems - so warm and genuinely chirpy and smiley and friendly, and so generous to spend an afternoon traipsing around Williamsburg in the rain to show me all her favrouite spots! I felt so lucky to spend a couple of hours in her company. Thanks so so much Grace!

Williamsburg looks like this. It feels a little bit Melbourne (Fitzroy-ish I guess), and a little bit London too - beautiful on a crisp sunny spring day... not quite as nice in the pouring rain...! Surprisingly it doesn't feel much like Manhattan at all.. it has more of a quirky charm and a real sense of community.

Below is a little round up of some of the lovely shops Grace took me to - as well as a few additions I discovered later when re-visiting Williamsburg on the weekend... Most are design-related, although I've thrown in a little coffee (and chocolate) too! Enjoy!

1) Blackbird Parlour
- 197 Bedford ave (at Nth 6th st)

Stopped at this lovely cafe on Bedford Avenue near the subway station for a coffee and a chat with Grace before our little tour! They have an espresso machine and make a great cafe latte - something we take for granted in Melbourne, but is often a rarity in New York! The vibe is relaxed, and the decor similar to many of New York's favourite haunts - a little bit dilapidated and grungy, with timber fixtures and vintage pendant lamp lighting.

Blackbird Parlour

2) The Future Perfect - 115 Nth 6th st

After reading so much about this famed Brooklyn design shop online over the past few years, I was eager to visit The Future Perfect! David Alhadeff opened the store back back in 2003, and has since been credited with really kick-starting a the new design scene in Brooklyn.

I was excited to see a mix of local Brooklyn design on offer, as well as famous pieces by reknowned international designers like Jaime Hayon, Patricia Urquiola and others... Grace and I loved the little faceted glacier glasses by David Wiseman for Artel... just a little out of my price range!

The Future Perfect

The Future Perfect

3) A & G Merch - 111 Nth 6th st

Alhadeff's more recent project is A & G Merch - The Future Perfect's more affordable younger sibling! Sorry no photos on the inside... I get shy sometimes! Check out their website for more.

4) Moon River Chattel - 62 Grand st

Moon River Chattel is a stunning shop full of delicate french antique linens, a mix of antique and vintage semi-industrial funiture, beautiful antique and reproduction lighting etc etc. Think Izzi and Popo meets Ici et La... only a bit more pared back... a bit less less colour. Beautiful beautiful. Many more photos on their Flickr here.

They also have an absolutely beautiful little 'secret garden' out the back door... truly magical, like some kind of fairy-tale - the walls covered in lush ivy etc... sorry no photos.. it was private property :( We just peeked through the back window.

Moon River Chattel - top photo by me, bottom photo found here.

5) Sprout Home - 44 Grand st

Sprout Home is another store I've been curious about ever since reading the gushing reviews on various NY-based design blogs over the last few years... it's the most gorgeous little garden shop, filled with cascading foliage and picture-perfect potplants. They also sell stunning individual blooms by the stem. More photos on Apartment Therapy here.

How cute is the pink-leaved plant below? Must try and track this down back home! Sprout Home also have a blog.

Sprout Home

6) Voos - 103a Nth 3rd st

The latest addition to Brooklyn's burgeoning design scene is Voos. Voos sell only locally- produced design pieces, so you're likely to find something truly unique here.

Voos - love those squat little concrete planters! Top image from here, bottom image by me.

7) Mast Brother's Chocolate - 105 Nth 3rd st

...well a girl can't get by on design alone!

Mast Brothers do the lovely wrapped chocolate I wrote about here. These guys are so popular right now, when Grace and I dropped by they had no chocolate left! Instead a team of chirpy locals were congregated around a communal table, feverishly packaging up more chocolate blocks in wrapping paper!

The Mast Brothers are decidedly old-school in their approach to chocolate making - they are New York's only 'bean to bar' chocolate makers, and each bar is handcrafted by the brothers themselves. Oh, and check out their beards! If that doesn't lend an air of old-fashioned sophistication to their business I don't know what does!

Sadly I didn't get a photo... so popped back on the weekend for these shots.

8) Bedford Cheese Shop - 229 Bedford ave

Grace and I dropped in here because Mast Brothers had no chocolate for us! So we picked up a couple of bars here. Gorgeous deli and stinky cheese shop. Lots of lovely gourmet treats on offer, and a beautiful older-style deli fit-out complete with tiny mosaic tiling on the floor.

Oh HELLO they also have a really cute website. Check it out.

Bedford Cheese Shop

9) Roebling Tea Room - 143 Roebling st Brooklyn

I actually didn't visit the lovely Roebling Tea Room restaurant with Grace... Gordon's friend Glen from Core 77 took us here on Sunday. I loved it! Such a great semi-industrial space - the building is filled with artists's studios on the higher floors.

They have seriously like 50 different types of tea... as well as a fantastic menu of lunch and breakfast treats. But this place is worth a visit just to check out the wallpaper. Super cute!

Roebling Tea Room entrance

Boys food and girls food. (ham, eggs and CHUNKY bread vs. fetta and pink grapefruit salad)

Gorgeous detailing at the Roebling Tea Room - love the sage green colour-palette and wispy wild flowers everywhere.

Couple of other restaurants / cafes that we didn't visit but which caught my eye..

10) Juliette - 135 Nth 5th st, Brooklyn

Just off the main drag of Bedford ave, this cafe's main drawcard is that fantastic generous rooftop space. Wish we had time to visit. Nice review here!

11) Radegast Hall and Biergarten - 113 N 3rd St (between Bedford Ave & Berry St)

I don't really like beer, but the fantastic space and sizzling barbeque in the open-air annex are enough to tempt me... the food looked (and smelled) fantastic. I feel like Little Creatures Dining Hall in Fitzroy had perhaps visited this place and tried their own slightly more polished version...

More great photos of the fantastic beer garden annex here.

Radegast Hall and Biergarten


  1. awesome, awesome, awesome. oh how i wish i had of been as prepared as you when we went to NY last year! this post has got to be the greatest little guide to brookllyn - thankyou! (ps - sprout is so great! i have one of the pink speckled leaves plants at home - got it at bunnings b/c thought it would be good for terrarium garden! but i am half planning to try and take cuttings and propagate and do a little stall at some melbourne market somewhere of nice indoor plants, so maybe it will pop up there as well!) thanks again for a lovely lovely post!

  2. you lucky lucky lucky girl!!! Hope some of Ms Bonney's readership rubs off!!!

  3. am feeling so inspired by your new york trip and discoveries... thankyou! i feel like i've been on a little holiday myself.. oh yeah and i'm totally jealous!

  4. What an amazing post. I've no idea when I'll make it out of Sydney, let alone Williamsburg, but I'm bookmarking this. Thank you.

  5. it was SO much fun going through williamsburg with you, lucy! it's always so nice to put a face with a name and i hope we get to hang out again the next time either of us is in new york or melbourne :)


  6. ooh, almost on my way to the US.
    I am going to print this out before i go! Thanks for the great wrap up of your trip.
    So good to know the little design and food spots

  7. Thanks for posting up such a great map. I've been in NY for a couple of months and have yet to discover many of the places mentioned. Very excited for an adventure!
    Also, a small note that the Bedford Ave subway stop is on the L train.

  8. Hey, just a minor correction, the train you want to take to Bedford Ave is the L train not the M, the M takes you way south of Williamsburg