Less than 2 years ago, the Red Hook neighborhood of Brooklyn was only accessible by a long subway ride and then either a bus ride or serious walk. Now you can hop aboard the NY Water Taxi in Manhattan where Wall St. meets the East River and be wandering the streets of Red Hook in about 15 minutes.
Courtesy of IKEA, this ferry is free on weekends but you’ll be amply reminded of the store’s mammoth presence on the waterfront upon arrival. Despite the commercial undertones and preferential treatment given to bona fide IKEA shoppers with bags in tow, you’ll pass through an artfully restored waterfront funded by consumer devotion before heading onto largely deserted cobbled streets harking back to the days of longshoremen and heavy industry that once occupied this neighborhood. Now you can hear crickets chirping and ocean breezes rustling weeds growing up through cracked sidewalks flanking ancient warehouses and factories.
Once destined for a hipster driven resurgence now put on hold by an uncertain economy, even Van Brunt Street, Red
Hook’s main thoroughfare filled with vintage clothing shops and eateries, is peppered with empty store fronts marked with “For Lease” signs. Amidst it all, Baked, a specialty bake shop remains a bustling gathering place for Brooklynites satisfying their cravings for home made cupcakes, chocolate marshmallows, chipotle-cinnamon brownies, and specialty cakes like the Red Hook Red Hot.
My favorites are their sweet and salty cupcake; molten caramel on the inside, ultra light chocolate frosting on the outside topped with crunchy flakes of sea salt. Their rosemary apricot bar is a flavorful combination of butter-flour crust with just a touch of rosemary layered with apricot preserves sprinkled with a crumbled oat topping. All of their offerings pair nicely with a fresh brewed Stumptown Coffee.
Hours: Mon-Fri, 8am-7pm; Sat-Sun, 9am-7pm
Besides the ferry, the nearest subway stop is the F or G at Smith-9th Sts. Or take the B77 bus to Van Brunt and Dikeman Sts.